Home U.K. Brexit blow as Northern Ireland will need checks on goods next year

Brexit blow as Northern Ireland will need checks on goods next year

The British government has said that Some infrastructure screening animal and food products at ports will be “expanded”, but bureaucracy will be kept to a “minimum”.

Northern Ireland will have to follow EU rules on agriculture and manufactured goods, ensuring access to its single market and keeping the border with the Republic free-flowing in a key concession maintaining a decades-old peace.

Screening will be supported by electronic processes, the Cabinet Office added, once the transition period finishes at the end of this year.

Michael Gove, minister in charge of Brexit preparations, said: “Our proposals will deliver unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the whole of the UK market; ensure there are no tariffs on goods remaining within the UK customs territory; discharge our obligations without the need for any new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland and, finally, guarantee that Northern Ireland businesses benefit from the lower tariffs we deliver through our new free trade agreements with third countries.”

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NORTHERN IRELAND may be subject to some checks on goods entering the country after the Brexit period (Image: PA)

The British government has said that Some infrastructure screening animal and food products at ports will be “expanded”, but bureaucracy will be kept to a “minimum”. (Image: PA)

The Cabinet Office minister outlined an “expansion of existing” infrastructure at the frontier as he set out the Government’s plan to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol part of last year’s EU deal.

A new command paper published on Wednesday spells out what ministers are calling a “pragmatic, proportionate way” to manage the flow of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, amid concern from the EU that customs checks and controls will be needed to protect its single market.

Mr Gove said: “Implementing the protocol in this way will ensure we can support businesses and citizens, and protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s customs territory while upholding our commitments to the EU’s Single Market.”

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said there “won’t be checks” as a result of his deal.

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Northern Ireland will have to follow EU rules on agriculture and manufactured goods, ensuring access to its single market and keeping the border with the Republic free-flowing in a key concession maintaining a decades-old peace. (Image: PA)

Gove also told MPs there would be “some limited additional process on goods arriving in Northern Ireland”.

But he added: “There will be no new physical customs infrastructure and we see no need to build any.

“We will, however, expand some existing entry points for agrifood goods to provide for proportionate additional controls.”

The command paper outlines a string of pledges from the Government on the border, with ministers promising “unfettered access” for Northern Irish businesses “to the whole of the UK market” by the end of the transition period.

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The EU wants to avoid Northern Ireland being used as a backdoor entry point to its market and has pressed for controls.

A Northern Ireland protocol was drawn up as part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels, and the paper published on Wednesday elaborates on how Britain intends to implement it, whether or not a wider EU trade deal is struck.

It says: “Some checks will be needed, supported by relevant electronic processes, in line with the island of Ireland’s existing status as a single epidemiological unit, building on what already happens at ports like Larne and Belfast.

“What the protocol does not do is create – nor does it include any provision for creating – any kind of international border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“That means its provisions must entail the minimum possible bureaucratic consequences for business and traders, particularly those carrying out their affairs entirely within the UK customs territory.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who opposed the Brexit withdrawal agreement Boris Johnson struck with the EU, welcomed the degree of “clarity” provided by Mr Gove in his House of Commons statement. (Image: PA)

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who opposed the Brexit withdrawal agreement Boris Johnson struck with the EU, welcomed the degree of “clarity” provided by Mr Gove in his House of Commons statement.

But Ms Foster said Mr Gove’s four main commitments must be adhered to by the British government.

Ms Foster said she would prefer “no checks at all” but accepted there already were some checks on agri-products coming into Northern Ireland.

She told the Northern Assembly: “Obviously I didn’t like the protocol at all but we have to make sure we minimise it as much as possible.

“I’m very pleased to see it talks about the unfettered access from Northern Ireland into the rest of the UK market.

“There won’t be any tariffs paid on goods that are moving between parts of the UK, there won’t be any new customs infrastructure – that is good news as well – and that, of course, we’ll benefit from any new trade deals.”

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