The EU's chief Brexit negotiator said on Thursday that the UK's exit from the European Union is the reason for tensions between London and Brussels over Northern Ireland, not the protocol agreed between the two sides over their divorce.
"The difficulties on the island of Ireland are caused by Brexit, not by the protocol," Michel Barnier told a European Business Summit event. "The protocol is the solution.
"I am sure if it is correctly implemented it will be progress for Northern Ireland. It protects the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions, it avoids a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and it protects the single market."
Mr Barnier also said that negotiations on Brexit are finished and cannot be reopened.
The EU national authorities will be very vigilant in the next weeks
He added that EU member states' national authorities will be vigilant for possible circumvention of new rules by financial services companies following Britain's final exit from the bloc's orbit at the end of last year.
"The EU national authorities will be very vigilant in the next weeks," he said. "I recommend everyone to be careful."
He said the EU needs further clarification from the UK before making a decision on financial services equivalence.
"I can just repeat that the equivalence decisions are and will remain unilateral of each party and are not subject to negotiation."