The European Commission's chief spokesperson has warned a no-deal crash out Brexit will inevitably cause a hard border in Ireland.
Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas confirmed the situation to journalists on Tuesday morning just hours after British prime minister Theresa May refused to rule out the doomsday Brexit scenario.
Speaking to reporters during a morning briefing in Brussels, Mr Schinas was repeatedly asked if a hard border can be avoided if there is a no deal Brexit.
In response, he said:
Mr Schinas's comments are likely to cause significant concern in Dublin due to the fact there are growing fears a no deal Brexit is becoming an increasing possibility.
The remarks will also be seen in the context of British prime minister Theresa May's decision to refuse to rule out the possibility of a no deal Brexit in a House of Commons debate on Monday.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney have repeatedly said they do not expect a hard border to return to Ireland and have no secret plans for physical infrastructure on the border.
However, both have also said in recent weeks that it will be difficult to avoid the prospect of a hard border if the EU and Britain fail to strike a coherent Brexit deal.