The European Union and Britain are further apart in rhetoric than substance as they begin future trade talks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said ahead of Britain's departure from the bloc on Friday.
The United Kingdom leaves the European Union on Friday for an uncertain Brexit future, the most significant change to its place in the world since the loss of empire and a blow to 70 years of efforts to forge European unity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to wrap up a trade deal by a year-end deadline and while EU members are sceptical, Varadkar said it was possible to do so, particularly if the new deal is very similar to the current arrangements.
"I am confident we can get a good deal. The good news is that I don't think the two parties - the EU on one side and Britain on the other - are all that far apart. Further apart in rhetoric than substance," Varadkar said in a speech.
"We broadly agree that we want there to be no quotas, no tariffs, no taxes and the minimum amount of bureaucracy and checks as possible. And that's really important particularly in Ireland."
Varadkar said both sides needed to start a new relationship on a firm and honest footing and for him, that meant a level playing field on standards.
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