Endless scratching of heads, hot towels and hours of Sir Humphrey’s precious time and the answer was there, under the collective noses of No. 10. MaxFac works, given the correct technology and policy decisions – and what’s more, an interim solution can be ready for March 2019, whether or not there is a transition period, whether or not we have “deal or no deal”.
Given that all of the information on which this assertion is based is in the public domain, one wonders why the civil servants haven’t revealed this inconvenient truth to the Prime Minister. Why it is not being enthusiastically pursued by M. Barnier and the Irish Prime Minister. We can only speculate what motives lurk within these circles, but I think we know.
A new paper has just been published by Leave Means Leave, setting out – comprehensively – how a technical solution would remove the perception of a border for the movement of goods between the Republic of Ireland and the UK including Northern Ireland. It outlines why the Common Travel Area may logically continue and it is endorsed by a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the DUP.
The paper proposes the use of existing pre-notification schemes such as the WTO and the EU Approved Economic Operator (AEO) scheme and special provisions including “trusted trader” for SMEs. All of these are currently operating and are tried and tested.
The tried and tested procedures are backed by modern technology which itself is in use in such places as the Switzerland/EU border, Canada/USA border and, in particular, the Norway/Sweden border. What is more, it is relatively cheap.
The net effect of all this in respect of the movement of goods and agricultural products is that the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border becomes a non-entity in practice. It becomes a point of data collection rather than a border although, of course, there will inevitably be a border – as there is now for tax purposes and in terms of currency.
Since these processes and policies operate internationally, they are also fit for purpose for the border between the UK and the rest of the EU. The World Bank reported recently that the level of physical inspection of goods transiting borders between developed countries is around 2% on average and in Ireland it is only 1%. When the UK leaves the EU Customs Union, why should it be any different between the UK and Ireland or for that matter the rest of the EU? This is a question for the EU not for the UK.
To read John Longworth’s piece for BrexitCentral in full, click here.