President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has contradicted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue of checks and controls on the Irish Sea once the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement takes effect.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Ms von der Leyen insisted there would need to be checks and controls on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said there would be no checks on goods going either way.

However, Ms von der Leyen told RTÉ News: "It is very clear in the Withdrawal Agreement – and this is set into law because it has been ratified by both parliaments, the European one and the British one.

"Of course there will be checks between Northern Ireland and great Britain as it is written down in the Withdrawal Agreement. 

"The checks will be done by the Brits under the supervision of the European Union and the European Court of Justice."

Asked if, on Brexit day, she might reflect on President Charles de Gaulle's belief over half a century ago that Britain did not "fit" into the then EEC, Ms von der Leyen said: "I think our British friends fit perfectly in the EU. 


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"I was still at school when they joined. At that time we had six member states, today almost half a century later we have 27 from tomorrow on. 

"The EU has grown and our British friends brought a lot of positive things to the EU.

"Now they are on the outside. We respect that. And as the sun rises tomorrow morning we will work hard for a new relationship.

"One thing is clear. We will negotiate fast and fair but there is a difference between being a member state or not, so the farther they are distant from the rules we have in the European Union the more difficult it will be to access the single market."
 
Asked if the support shown to Ireland over the Irish border issue during the divorce negotiations might mean some "payback" in the future on issues like corporate tax, the Commission president replied: "I think all of us in the EU we know it is a give and take and we all know that by having solidarity with each other we gain a lot. 

"There is a second principle that we discuss the issues and find a common solution that every member state can live with, and I’m very confident that taxation will be the same case."