Business, Freight News

Brussels takes action over Northern Ireland Protocol

[ July 27, 2022   //   ]

The European Commission launched four new infringement procedures against the UK for not complying with significant parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol on 22 July but said it had refrained from launching others for over a year in order to look for joint solutions with the UK.

They latest measures are in addition to the infringement procedures launched on 15 June.

One procedure is for failing to comply with customs requirements, supervision requirements and risk controls on the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain which, says the Commission significantly increases the risk of smuggling via Northern Ireland and opening the possibility for traders to circumvent EU rules on prohibitions and restrictions on the export of goods to third countries or provides possibilities for carousel trafficking of goods being declared for export in the EU and actually not exiting the customs territory via Northern Ireland.

It follows the UK’s unilateral declaration on 17 December 2020 to ensure “unfettered access” for Northern Irish goods to move to the UK market. The EU said it had agreed with the UK proposal to provide “equivalent” information through “alternative means” on a real time basis but the UK had not so far collected export declaration data for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain nor does it provide information to the EU on these movements, making any supervision of those goods by Union representatives impossible.

Another was for failing to notify the transposition of EU legislation laying down general EU rules on excise duties, which will become applicable from 13 February 2023. Member States and the UK in respect of Northern Ireland were required to transpose this Directive and notify the Commission of their transposition measures by 31 December 2021 and the UK has so far failed to do so. The Commission argues that non-implementation of these rules poses a fiscal risk to the EU for excise goods moving to or from Northern Ireland.

A third procedure covers transposition of EU rules on lower excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages for small while a fourth is for failing to implement EU rules on VAT for e-commerce, namely the Import One-Stop Shop, which allows suppliers selling imported goods not exceeding €150 to buyers in the EU to declare and pay the VAT via the tax authorities of one Member State instead of having to register in every Member State.