Irish border remains biggest barrier to orderly withdrawal from the EU

Aerial view of the APM container terminal in rotterdam Netherlands on the Maasvlakte. With Europahaven Yangtzehaven and the euromax terminal in the background

The move would mean border checks not having to be put in place.

Barnier said at a press conference in Brussels after last week's talks that any solution on the issue of the border must be precise, clear and unambiguous.

He wants the December agreement on no return of the border written into law, which would force the UK Government to concede.

However, the UK Government would have to push it through. "Enterprise Ireland's Northern Powerhouse Report underscores the extent of the business and partnership opportunities for Irish companies, with the north of England, an area that is growing at a significant rate and outpacing all other parts of the United Kingdom".

"It's also very much the view of both the British government and the Irish government, affirmed here today, that the best solution is not the backstop - as I call it - or the last resort - as Theresa May the Prime Minister calls it - but actually the option A, ensuring that we can have a new relationship between the United Kingdom and European Union that involves a comprehensive free trade agreement and customs arrangement that allows us to avoid not just a hard border north and south but also new barriers to trade east and west".

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"While we are focused on encouraging businesses to have a more diversified market strategy, the UK is Ireland's most significant export market and in parallel, we are focused on supporting Irish companies to consolidate and grow their exports to the UK and diversify in the UK market, seeking opportunities beyond the traditional regions and sectors", she added.

"I understand Mr Barnier's frustrations with the lack of progress since December. It's a little over a year away and I think we need clarity and urgency from London", he said.

Mr Varadkar also denied that the Brexit deal struck late a year ago had been oversold. Irish senator Neal Richmond said repeated warnings against any type of border were not "alarmism".

"The Irish Government is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.as are the British Government, so we do have a responsibility to make sure that case is known".

Speaking on ITV's Peston On Sunday he added: "It is not alarmism". We commissioned it so that we can quantify the potential impacts of different Brexit scenarios, and get hard facts on what sectors will be most impacted by those different scenarios. "This is a clear and present danger to our peace process which needs to be tackled".

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