In an outspoken intervention Michael Collins, who is Dublin’s chief representative in Germany, said he wanted to see the “closest possible trade between the UK and the EU’ after 2019.
But he warned that Downing Street needs to get its act together and put forward a much firmer set of demands to Brussels or else the divorce process is likely to drift into failure.
Mr Collins is just the latest high profile European figure to speak out about a perceived lack of preparation on the British side of the talks, something officials in London strongly deny.
Last month David Davis took a massive team of 98 pen-pushers along with him for the opening round of the negotiations proper, dwarfing the 50-strong EU detachment by two to one.
The move was seen as a clear attempt to rebuff repeated claims by eurocrats and EU leaders that the UK has not yet grasped the magnitude of trying to untangle more than four decades of membership.
But despite the bureaucratic show of force EU officials, including chief negotiator Michel Barnier, complained that little progress could be made because Britain has no clear position on key issues like the divorce bill.
In an interview with EurActiv, Mr Collins said he was encouraged by aspects of how last month’s round of negotiations had gone but urged the UK to firm up its strategy ahead of the next salvo, at the end of August.
He said: “Ireland welcomes the conclusion of the second round. It allowed for a more detailed examination of pending questions in all important areas: citizen rights, financial affairs and the specific concerns of Ireland.
“Even though a certain amount of progress was made, we believe that the UK needs to come up with realistic and effective solutions to the challenges Brexit poses. It is clear many difficult and complex challenges remain.”
Dublin is seen as one of Theresa May’s biggest and most natural allies in her attempts to secure a favourable trade deal with the bloc given its huge trading relationship with Britain.
Whilst countries like France and Germany may be prepared to try and punish the UK economically for leaving other member states, such as Ireland, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian states, can scarcely afford to do so.
Mr Collins made clear there will be no ‘Irexit’ no matter what happens in the upcoming negotiations but did warn that the consequences of a no-deal failure would be disastrous for Dublin.
He said: “Ireland’s priorities still include minimising…