Our response to the Government's UK-Irish border paper

Marsha Scott
August 19, 2017

There is also likely to be pressure on Theresa May from those in Britain advocating a hard Brexit with Nigel Farage expressing concerns over the lack of immigration checks at the UK's only land border with the EU.

While David Gavaghan, NI regional chairman of the CBI, welcomed the government recognising that an interim period will be "crucial" to providing clarity for businesses, those making long-term investment decisions "need to see much more detail from these papers".

The UK government said Wednesday that there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, which would help deal with the thorny issue of policing the border on the island.

"Both sides need to show flexibility and imagination when it comes to the border issue in Northern Ireland", a British government source said.

Another policy paper was released on Tuesday hinted at a new post-Brexit customs plan with the European Union, aiming to make future trade "as frictionless as possible".

The government's Department for Exiting the European Union acknowledged that "unprecedented" solutions would be needed to preserve the peace process and maintain the benefits of an open border after Britain leaves the EU, its single market in goods and services and its tariff-free customs union.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said on Twitter that the sooner the Irish question, along with the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and the country's "divorce bill" is settled, the quicker negotiations can move to questions of customs and the future EU-UK relationship. The sticking point will be the Britain's insistence that it can strike trade deals with non-EU states.

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The UK's departure from the EU's customs union was confirmed at the weekend in a joint article by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

The UK paper proposed a future customs arrangement which would mean the vast majority of businesses - including farmers and small firms - trading across the border remaining exempt from tariffs and food safety checks.

Alternately, it suggested "a highly streamlined customs arrangement" could be set up, using technology to ease border procedures.

London also said it wanted to uphold its freedom of movement agreement with Ireland, which predates the EU.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said having no physical border would "require a unique political solution".

"For so-called frictionless trade to work effectively, it will require all those in the supply chain in both Ireland and the United Kingdom to buy into the same technological solutions solve the new trading conditions presented by a post-Brexit world", he continued.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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