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Nightmarish administrative task lies at heart of Brexit plan
While the principle of avoiding any physical border infrastructure between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is positive, it is very difficult to see how this could operate in practice.

In suggesting as they did on Tuesday that a new "customs partnership", which would essentially see the UK continuing to control the trade flows across the union's external borders in accordance with EU rules, while applying different rules to goods destined only to the UK market, the UK has - in theory - come up with an option that would obviate the need for an internal border in Ireland.

But the plan is unprecedented internationally, highly complex, requiring nightmarish administrative provisions for both business and government, and most unlikely to fill Ireland's EU partners with confidence that their external borders would be secure. And the faith expressed by Britain's Brexit Minister David Davies in a technological alternative to border controls is most definitely not shared in Dublin.

Customs experts say that such measures can easily police over 90 per cent of trade, but would be completely unable to cope with the crucial illegal trade that is already a feature of the Border. In suggesting that the first-phase withdrawal talks currently under way could begin to reach political agreement on the need for an infrastructure-free Border, the UK also appears to be trying to bounce negotiators into discussions on trade which the EU insists can only begin once sufficient progress on withdrawal is made.

UK negotiators will probably be told they are putting the cart before the horse. Agricultural trade poses particular problems. The EU insists that all animal and food products crossing from third countries must meet its extensive phytosanitary and sanitary standards. Border checks are the means for monitoring such standards.

The UK paper suggests that it will be willing to meet such standards on an "ongoing" basis, but such a commitment would seriously inhibit it from doing agricultural trade agreements with countries like the US where, for example, GM crops are permitted. That commitment would appear to fly in the face of its trade stance.

In addition, the paper is extremely vague about how the UK in the context of the Common Travel Area intends to police potential immigration, either of EU or third country workers, coming in through the "backdoor" of the Republic. British officials suggest that policing illegal migration is not really a border control issue, but can be better done in controlling access to jobs once migrants have entered.

However, such an argument will go down extremely poorly with the Brexit fanatics on the Tory backbenches for whom border controls were and remain a central imperative of Brexit.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 07:22:59 PM EST
There is a new computerized UK customs system designed pre-referendum and coincidentally scheduled to go live in March 2019 although it was, of course, originally sized to deal with third party trade only. Presumably it will use online forms submission and automated clearance document generation with barcode/transducer technology to facilitate the occasional spot check of goods vs. documentation and enable virtually automated clearance for all goods.

I have some (painful) experience of being the end-user acceptance testing manager for very large global enterprise wide MRP systems for multiple markets/languages/currencies and suffice to say that this is one project I would be happy not to be involved with. (Last time around the Director of IT told me he valued my project management skills so highly that it didn't matter that I had no prior experience of the business processes being automated, the technology being used, the IT teams doing the design/implementation, or the management which had signed off on the design.)

Needless to say everything went swimmingly, except that production chaos ensued once the system went live because the business managers had signed off on system designs which bore little relationship to the reality of how the underlying production/distribution processes actually operated. The failure was most acute in the UK.  Apparently senior UK business managers don't do detail. Promotion is based on selling conceptual, strategic, transformational systems which run best on Powerpoint..

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 16th, 2017 at 07:28:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...the business managers had signed off on system designs which bore little relationship to the reality of how the underlying production/distribution processes actually operated

Yep.

And the IT rep who sold the system knew bugger-all about IT.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 01:20:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was all part of a global e-transformation project that could only be realised by implementing a single (brand) SAP system which standardised and automated most core business processes.  The decision was made by Corporate HQ Board without reference to operating units never mind their IT functions. SAP don't sell IT, they sell business transformation (and the enforcement of centralised HQ control) obviating the need for troublesome (limited imagination) middle management in most cases and empowering strategic managers who don't do detail anyway... In fact if it's too complicated to explain quickly, its obviously in need of simplification, standardisation, and centralised leadership!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 17th, 2017 at 09:51:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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