(Bloomberg) -- Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believes a solution can be reached to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after the U.K. leaves the European Union.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York Friday, Varadkar said he couldn’t “contemplate” the re-emergence of border controls and nothing should be done to damage the region’s peace process.
“I think we can get there, everyone wants to get there, ” he said. “It’s a red-line position for us and we have 27 EU states behind us.”
The almost invisible border on the island is largely possible because Ireland and the U.K. are both members of the EU and its single market. The U.K.’s plan to leave could mean some kind of checks would have to go up as the line between the two becomes the U.K.’s land frontier with the EU, unless solutions can be found.
Varadkar said a border could be avoided either through a “close” future trade relationship between the U.K. and EU or Northern Irish rules remaining aligned with the Republic of Ireland if all other options fail. Though U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May assented to that in December, the two sides are struggling to forge a legal text to underpin the agreement.
“We now need to have that written in a legal form that is enforceable,” he said. “We don’t yet have a nailed down legal text.”
Varadkar said he “was a little more optimistic” on global trade after his visit to Washington and said he sensed an openness in the U.S. administration to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU.
“I would prefer a trade agreement to a trade war,” he said. “Everyone would lose from that.”
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