The European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs has warned that Ireland cannot get into talks with the UK over customs issues ahead of the Brexit negotiations.

Pierre Moscovici,  who also holds the EU customs portfolio, told RTÉ News: "There can be no discussion about customs as long as the UK is a member of the EU.

"I'm commissioner for customs, and there is a customs union. Until the UK leaves, it is a full member of EU with all its duties and all its rights."

Yesterday, RTÉ News reported that the Government has been involved in technical discussions with London and with the European Commission on ways to minimise the need for customs checks on the island of Ireland once Britain leaves the EU.

Mr Moscovici, who will visit Dublin on Tuesday, added: "I understand very well that due to history, to culture, to the economy there is a very close relationship between Ireland and the UK.

"But I'm also very confident in the Irish European faith..."I know how deeply European and deeply committed the Irish are".

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Moscovici said that contrary to British Prime Minister Theresa May's demand for a free trade agreement to be reached between the UK and the EU within two years, negotations on a future trade relationship could only happen at the end of the two year time frame for the withdrawal negotiations.

"By definition the UK is a member of the EU and until now it's the EU, including the UK, which negotiates with third countries.

"And the UK is not a third country.

"I think legally and logically there is a point there".