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The announcement came amid talks in Brussels between Raab and his European Union counterpart Michel Barnier.

"There is an urgent need to work on the text of an operational backstop and that's why I've asked Dominic and his team to provide us with the necessary data for technical work, which we need now, on the nature, location and methods of the checks that will be needed", Barnier said.

The EU proposes that Northern Ireland stay aligned with the remaining 27 bloc members after Brexit as part of a "backstop", or insurance policy to avoid the reimposition of border checks and a risk to Irish peace gains.

"With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) no backstop, we will not be able to have an agreement".

Mr Barnier was speaking following a six-hour round of face-to-face talks with the UK Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab.

Earlier, Mr Barnier said a backstop is "essential to conclude the negotiations", stating: "With no backstop there will be no agreement".

The UK Government and politicians from across the spectrum have rejected the EU's vision of a backstop that keeps Northern Ireland under European customs rules.

Raab said the government remained committed to finding a solution in Northern Ireland, but the latest meetings with Barnier on the issue have been notable for their frostiness, sources have said. That threatens to erect an internal trade barrier in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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That goes specifically for the sensitive issue of the EU-U.K. land border between Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland, where the European Union wants a "backstop" solution in case of no deal, which includes terms that are anathema to London.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Raab said "valuable progress" had been made in the negotiations, and that both sides were edging towards an agreement.

Barnier said unresolved issues included geographical indication labels for specialised local products, nuclear cooperation, data protection and the role of the EU's top court in policing the agreement.

He said: "With no backstop, there will be no agreement".

"Our responsibility is to be prepared for any and all the options", Mr Barnier told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday.

"The solutions (on Ireland) must be workable".

Raab said that "on my side, I am stubbornly optimistic that a deal is within our reach".


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