December 8, 2017 / 9:38 AM / 10 months ago

UK staying in single market not a solution to Irish border issue - EU's Barnier

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain remaining in the EU single market is not one of the possible solutions to the problem of avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Friday.

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier addresses a conference on the "The future of the EU" at the Centre for European Reform in Brussels, Belgium November 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

“The British government has confirmed that it wishes also to leave the single market and the customs union, which is not obligatory,” Barnier said after the Commission concluded that the first phase of Brexit negotiations had made sufficient progress to allow talks to begin on future EU-UK relations.

“What it says in the text... is that either option 1, the future relationship which we now have to build with the UK will enable us to settle all or part of the issues to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland, or, option 2, something else which will have to be found.”

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, writing by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel

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