EU sets out plans to simplify post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland

The European Commission has proposed bespoke arrangements to respond to the difficulties in Northern Ireland since Brexit, by making it easier to move goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The proposals include an 80% reduction sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks, with simplified certification on goods moving from Great Britain to be consumed in Northern Ireland. This is in addition to the solutions that the EU put forward on 30 June, which facilitates the movement of live animals from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

In order to protect the integrity of the Single Market, this would be subject to a number of conditions and safeguards, such as the UK delivering on its commitment to complete the construction of permanent Border Control Posts, specific packaging and labelling indicating that the goods are for sale only in the UK, and reinforced monitoring of supply chains.

The Commission is also proposing flexible customs formalities to facilitate the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, leading to a 50% reduction in paperwork. This is also subject to safeguards, such as the UK committing to providing full and real-time access to IT systems, a review and termination clause, as well as the UK customs and market surveillance authorities implementing appropriate monitoring and enforcement measures.

When taken together, the bespoke solutions for both SPS and customs rules, the Commission said it would create a type of ‘Express Lane’ for the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Commission said it would now have intensive discussions with the UK government, with a view to reaching a jointly agreed permanent solution as soon as possible. 

Vice-President Maros Šefčovič said: “I have listened to and engaged with Northern Irish stakeholders. Today’s proposals are our genuine response to their concerns. We have put a lot of hard work into them to make a tangible change on the ground, in response to the concerns raised by the people and businesses of Northern Ireland. We are looking forward to engaging earnestly and intensively with the UK government, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.”


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