The European Tribune is a forum for thoughtful dialogue of European and international issues. You are invited to post comments and your own articles.
Please REGISTER to post.
Post Brexit, would the goods imported from Britain to NI be subject to customs controls? Is that what the Big 3 are complaining about?
Similarly, German, French or Swedish retailers can import goods freely into the Republic, thanks to the single market, but will they also be able to sell those goods in NI without customs controls after Brexit?
If that is the case, then British retailers would be at a disadvantage in NI, but is this what the "no border checks" in Ireland is all about in the end?
The UK isn't sure what it wants, or what day of the week it is, but in theory it also reserves the right to implement its own customs controls.
So both sides need controls to manage quotas and tariffs/taxes and to make sure regulatory requirements are being met for everything from animal imports to fruit and veg to car parts to electronics to fine art.
But... there can't be a hard border between NI and Ireland for political and historic reasons. Both the EU and UK have said they don't consider border checkpoints an acceptable outcome, and this solution treads perilously close to blowing up the Good Friday Agreement and restarting the Troubles.
There can't be customs checks by UK officials inside Ireland for political and historic reasons. The Irish government considers this option unacceptable.
There can't be a hard border between NI and the UK for political and historic reasons. Although it started implementing this option earlier in the year, the current British government seems to have decided this option is now unacceptable.
There must be a customs border somewhere. There cannot be a customs border anywhere.
This was fine when EU Freedom of Movement was a thing. Now that it's not a thing, the UK wants to make sure it can check the passports of people coming into NI from the EU to make sure they're Irish and not some other unacceptable kind of European immigrant.
This is impossible without border checks. See above re: GFA.
Which means checks will either not happen at all, or they'll happen somewhere between NI and the mainland. As before, the UK is very unhappy about this - partly on principle, but also because there's a fair amount of traffic between the two, and no-compromise border controls would be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.
My spies tell me the UK's solution will be to wave goods and people through for at least the first few years - good news for smugglers, people traffickers, drug dealers, and other undesirables, and a "solution" which will do even more to damage the UK's international reputation.
Given that most North South and east west trade is dominated by a few large retailers and other businesses, "trusted trader" schemes whereby these businesses report their import/exports in the same way as their VAT returns, could work for perhaps 80% of all trade.
The relatively small amounts transported by private individuals/sole traders and small business in cars/vans would be immaterial in an EU context and be made legal by exempting "shipments" under (say) 1,000 for personal use. On-line retailers wouldn't be exempt because they are generally large companies.
Large trucks would be subject to random spot checks near the border, and at ports exiting the island for the rest of the EU. It simply isn't feasible to block 300 road crossings along the 500KM border, and these blockades were regularly blown up during the troubles as they divided farms, towns, and rural communities with intimate ties.
I hear Amazon and other multiples are busy setting up distribution centres in Ireland having previously serviced the Irish market from UK warehouses. Aldi and Lidl and Decathlon are expanding rapidly. Tesco et al used to regard Ireland as "Treasure Island" as they could sustain much higher margins here for lack of competition. This is changing and they will lose market share v. rapidly if they don't adapt from exclusive reliance on British distribution centres.
This is the reality of Brexit, although Brexiteers and many political commentators have been remarkably slow at grasping the significance of the economic changes that will ensue. Who knew that customs controls could be so much hassles? It strikes at the heart of the globalising business and consumer trends of the past 50 years that everyone took for granted.
Index of Frank's Diaries
There is smuggling: meat and alcohol to Norway, rice and sugar to Sweden. But it is at the margins and there is a risk at getting caught.
There are currently no airport-style hard border queues with immigration officials checking passports/ID/visas on entry - which would be the only way to control immigration to the mainland, which is what Brexiters really care about, but is also impossible because etc.
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 23 18 comments
by ARGeezer - Oct 22 1 comment
by ATinNM - Oct 19 34 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 19 111 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 11 32 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 8 126 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 6 160 comments
by IdiotSavant - Sep 28 6 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 2318 comments
by ARGeezer - Oct 221 comment
by ATinNM - Oct 1934 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 19111 comments
by gmoke - Oct 15
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 1132 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 8126 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 6160 comments
by Frank Schnittger - Oct 135 comments
by IdiotSavant - Sep 286 comments
by IdiotSavant - Sep 2810 comments