European Union officials are working on re-drafting a sensitive Irish protocol to the draft Brexit treaty with Britain, EU officials have said.

The move is part of what EU negotiator Michel Barnier has called efforts to "de-dramatise" the issue and get a deal.

Officials and diplomats close to the negotiations have previously said this month that work was under way to find wording that could ease British fears that the "backstop" to avoid a hard land border for Northern Ireland would pull it away from its constitutional anchor to the United Kingdom.

British officials have said their problems with the EU-proposed backstop go beyond language and point out that the DUP will not be easily mollified.

"We are willing to look at how we can de-dramatisze the problem," one EU official said.

"We are willing to improve (the draft protocol)."

Another said work was now fully under way on a new text before Mrs May meets the other EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg next week.

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However, as Mr Barnier's boss European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament earlier today, the EU is not willing to go along with British proposals that it believes would give UK business a free-ride back-door entry to the EU single market or to let Ireland suffer as a result of Brexit.

At the same time, Mr Juncker stressed, the EU was looking to forge a very close partnership with Britain.