'Brexit deadline extension is almost inevitable' - MEP Kelly
UK premier Theresa May's bid to clarify her stance on Brexit last week has confused many in Brussels.
In a long-awaited speech to foreign diplomats, she pledged to maintain the common travel area with Ireland and pledged there would be no "return to the borders of the past".
But she was less clear on what she expected from trade with Ireland and the rest of the bloc, hinting she would leave the customs union but seek tariff-free trade with the EU - an option that is legally impossible.
Ireland's 11 MEPs met the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, ahead of the speech to plead Ireland's case.
Fine Gael's Seán Kelly (inset), who organised the meeting, said Mr Barnier was sympathetic to Ireland's concerns on border issues and Northern Ireland.
"Most people would agree a hard border is the least possible and least practical outcome," he told the Irish Independent. "It could undermine the whole peace process."
But he warned the UK risked having to extend its two-year negotiating timeline because of the complexity of the talks.
"It's fairly clear to anybody, you won't get a full agreement in that space of time," he said. "I think they might have to ask for an extension, it's almost inevitable."