A border will have to be imposed post Brexit regardless of any UK/EU trade deal, former World Trade Organisation (WTO) chief Pascal Lamy has warned.
Mr Lamy – who is on a two day visit to Dublin - said the moment a country leaves the single market, borders go up. He said the border question cannot be evaded.
“Whatever UK/EU trade regime will be negotiated, assuming there will be one, there will have to be a border,” the former trade chief told an event organised by Dublin City University’s Brexit Institute.
“The moment you exit the internal market, you have borders.”
Mr Lamy, who was also chief of staff to former European Commission president Jacques Delors, said he hasn’t found a solution to the border question.
“I haven’t found any solution. And the reason is that the 'no border' does not exist.”
He also said there would have to be checks to ensure that goods brought across the border comply with standards.
Mr Lamy said he had looked at the Swedish/Norway border, which he described as a “serious border”.
He said “nothing will prevent Brexit” from transforming the situation with the border.
“The only solution, the only question is where is the border? And that of course is a million dollar question.”
The former WTO director general said it may be “convenient” not to recognise now that there will have to be a border and that that has to be dealt with.
“If whatever arrangement implies a border, you cannot evade the border question,” Mr Lamy said.
“I can understand why it is convenient to do that.”
Mr Lamy also said that the claim from Prime Minister Theresa May that no deal is a better than a bad deal, is a “bad omen”.
“When I hear a negotiator starting at the very beginning outlining no deal is better than a bad deal, it is not a good sign,” Mr Lamy said.