He made the remarks to an audience at the Queen’s University in Belfast ahead of Brexit day this Friday. “The UK has chosen to become a third country; to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union; to leave behind the EU’s framework of common rules, common supervision and common Court of Justice,” Mr Barnier said. “It has chosen to create two regulatory spaces. This makes frictionless trade impossible. It makes checks indispensable.”
Speaking to politicians including former Irish premier Bertie Ahern as well as business and community leaders, Mr Barnier confirmed checks will take place.
“We will need sanitary and phytosanitary checks on food products and live animals,” he said.
“The EU must be able to assess risks on any product coming into its market and, if necessary, activate physical controls.
“These checks must take place somewhere.
“And as the whole point of the protocol is to avoid a hard border and protect the all-island economy, it was clear that they could not take place at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Michel Barnier with Leo Varadkar
Boris will deliver Brexit on Friday
“The only real option was to use Northern Ireland’s other entry points. This is also where such checks are the easiest to implement. And controls will also take place in Dublin and other EU entry points.”
It comes after Leo Varadkar earlier warned the European Union will have the upper hand in trade negotiations with Britain.
Speaking to BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, the Irish Taoiseach said: “I think the reality of the situation is that the European Union is a union of 27 member states.
“The UK is only one country. And we have a population and a market of 450 million people. The UK, it’s about 60.
“So if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team? So long as we’re united.”
The UK will officially leave the European Union at the end of this month before critical trade negotiations start with the Brussels bloc.
Senior EU officials have already warned about the length of time it will take to secure a comprehensive deal.
But, Prime Minister Mr Johnson has repeatedly said the UK will not be extending the transition period deadline, which comes to an end of 2020.
Speaking in London, Mr Johnson again insisted it should be possible to “wrap all this up” by the end of the year.
“We will be doing things very fast, [in a] very friendly and respectful way, and in a way also, I think it’s important to stress, that really ensures we look after the interests of the Republic of Ireland as well,” he said.