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At the moment, and in future under international law, N. Ireland firms have full access to the Single Market. Should the UK government allow unhindered access for British goods to N. Ireland, the EU will have no option but to institute border controls to prevent British goods leaking into the EU via N. Ireland. This could also inconvenience N. Ireland firms who would have to prove the origin of their goods.

However I believe the EU will allow the Irish government to institute those controls at Irish sea and air ports as a much more feasible option than trying to put customs posts on 300 roads passing through the 500KM land border.

The Irish government could also institute a "trusted trader" scheme within Ireland whereby Irish firms, importing through/from N.Ireland, declare any goods of British origin in their accounts in the same way as they do their VAT returns. The vast majority of Irish imports from Britain are by large supermarket chains and other large businesses with robust internal controls. Guinness already has customs officials on site 24/7 to ensure alcohol production is properly taxed.

This would not prevent private individuals, sole traders and small businesses loading up their cars/vans with goods in N. Ireland and driving them across the border for their own personal or small business use. The Irish government could institute the occasional mobile spot check of large Vans/trucks near the border to eliminate gross abuses, but basically the quantities would be immaterial in an EU context and restricted to Ireland.

From a political and economic point of view, this would  be a little compensation for private individuals and small businesses/sole traders for the costs that Brexit will impose in other ways, and perhaps also re-balance the competitive advantage of (e.g.) small shops vs global multinational supermarket chains. Any such solutions would be temporary, pending a UK/EU trade deal, and failing that until there is a more formal re-unification of Ireland, politically and/or economically.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 10th, 2020 at 09:31:44 AM EST
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