Barnier says EU will fight to avoid hard Ireland-UK border

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator has reassured Ireland that the bloc will fight to ensure there is no return to a hard border with Northern Ireland when the U.K. leaves the bloc.

Ireland is the only EU country that shares a land border with Britain, and could face economic turmoil if Brexit brings tariffs and other trade barriers between the U.K. and the bloc.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier told Irish lawmakers on Thursday that "I will work with you to avoid a hard border."

Addressing both houses of the Irish parliament in Dublin, Barnier acknowledged that Ireland is in a unique position over Brexit and said "Ireland's interest will be the Union's interest."

He said nothing in the exit negotiations should put Northern Ireland's peace settlement at risk.