Foreign minister Simon Coveney blasted the UK for putting forward flimsy proposals on how the frontier will be managed post-Brexit and said Dublin will not currently sanction sufficient progress.
He told Downing Street the European side needs to see “significant movement in a number of areas” to unblock the talks as Mrs May arrived in Brussels for a meeting of the Eastern Partnership Summit.
Ireland has significantly upped its rhetoric against the UK in recent weeks as Dublin looks to exert maximum diplomatic pressure ahead of next month’s crucial European Council gathering.
Yesterday Irish officials leaked a series of explosive EU diplomatic cables which contained deep and personal criticism of senior British ministers and the Government’s Brexit approach.
The damning papers express concerns amongst eurocrats and member states that the “chaos” in the Tory party is undermining the talks and contains scathing criticisms of Boris Johnson and David Davis.
This morning the foreign minister insisted that the leak was “unfortunate” and “not helpful” but many believe it has been deliberately timed to boost Taioseach Leo Varadkar and weaken Mrs May at a crucial time.
Both Britain and the EU are hoping to achieve the critical “sufficient progress” in the talks at next month’s Council summit which would finally allow trade talks to get under way.
As a result Ireland has ratcheted up its Brexit demands in recent weeks, with Mr Coveney insisting today that the UK must sign up to regulatory equivalence to avoid the reemergence of a hard border.
He said: “A number of weeks ago perhaps people weren’t listening to that position. Perhaps they didn’t realise that the resolve was very firm from the Irish side that we’re not going to allow a border to reemerge.
“If progress isn’t made in terms of more clarity and more credibility in terms of how these issues can be resolved, in a way that prevents a hard border, we cannot move onto phase two which is where everybody wants to move to.
“We want to work with Britain and we want to be fair but firm in terms of protecting what are really important Irish interests for the future and I think the British Government understand that now.”
Britain has pledged that there will be no return to a hard border and earlier this year produced a paper putting forward a future customs arrangement, but the proposals were branded unrealistic by Brussels.
And asked about the UK’s promise to solve the issue, Mr Coveney snorted: “That’s aspirational with all due respect. We can’t move to phase two on the basis of aspiration.
“We have to move to phase two on the basis of a credible roadmap, or the parameters around which we can design a credible roadmap, to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
“Nobody wants a hard border on the island of Ireland, but we want to make sure that in phase two we don’t have a situation where people say ‘sorry the aspiration is for no hard border but we don’t know how to achieve it’.”
Mr Coveney insisted Ireland will not be put in a position where it has to veto sufficient progress “on our own” because all of the 27 EU member states support Dublin’s position.
He added: “The truth is if we see regulatory divergence in the two jurisdictions of the island of Ireland it’s very hard to see in that scenario how you avoid hard border checks.
“What we’re talking about is whether we can move onto opening up phase two in parallel with phase one issues in December. Without sufficient progress on the Irish issues that can’t happen.”