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EU's chief Brexit negotiator Barnier refuses to rule out hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic

A senior European Union official has refused to rule out the return of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the UK after Brexit.

The European Commission's lead Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK's decision to break away from Brussels would have "consequences" and he was "extremely aware" of the importance of the situation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Barnier said he was determined that the Brexit negotiations would "find a way" to preserve the success of the Good Friday peace agreement.

But asked if he would commit to retaining the common travel area and rule out a hard border between Ireland - a member state - and the UK once it is outside the bloc, he said Brexit would have implications for the EU's frontiers.

Mr Barnier, who played a leading role in the EU's support of the Good Friday process, said: "The UK's decision to leave the European Union will have consequences. In particular, perhaps, for what are the EU's external borders today.

"All I can say at this moment in time is that I am personally extremely aware of the importance of this particular topic.

"We will, throughout these negotiations with the UK and of course with Ireland, do our utmost to find a way in order to preserve the success of the Good Friday process and, of course, retain the dialogue there.

"That's all I can say now."

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