European Union chief negotiator hears from border businesses on Brexit

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator quipped that his Ryanair flight to Dublin, even without coffee, underlined the benefits of the bloc, as he sought to reassure the Irish of his commitment to protecting the nation as the United Kingdom pulls out of the EU.

Barnier addressed Irish lawmakers on Thursday, telling them he would work "to avoid a hard border" but stressing that Britain's decision to leave meant there would be "consequences" such as customs checks.

There is also a clear warning, especially in the context of a hard Brexit in which a customs frontier emerges in Ireland, that an actual border will be next to impossible to avoid.

The EU's negotiating guidelines call for a "flexible and creative" approach to the customs issue but no solid plans have yet been advanced by either the EU or the UK. "Customs controls are part of European Union border management".

Ms Mogherini said: "We underestimate the power we have, and underestimating or downplaying it we hurt ourselves".

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"It is really important that we understand that the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland stands in a special situation and we need special arrangements in order to protect what we have achieved there", Mr Blair told RTE Radio's Morning Ireland.

"Seeing is believing and the invisibility of the border today is something which must be maintained post-Brexit", McGuinness said.

Barnier is scheduled to travel to the border with Northern Ireland with Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan on Friday to visit some food businesses and farmers who are likely to be affected by the Brexit.

Barnier said the negotiations should be conducted "with mutual respect".

The MEPs saw with their own eyes how impossible and undesirable it would be to see a hard border re-established between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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Tony Blair has warned that a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic would be a "disaster".

"There's bits of the Good Friday Agreement that specifically assume that Britain and the Irish Republic are in the European Union, so obviously a change of language but I don't think a change of substance", he said.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has said the United Kingdom would adopt technology to cover the transport of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Prime Minister has accused European Union politicians and officials of trying to influence the outcome of the 8 June election.

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