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EU plan would scrap Ulster food checks – updated

[ October 13, 2021   //   ]

The European Union has set out a plan under which most checks on food exports to Northern Ireland would be scrapped. The scheme would be dependent on robust data systems to ensure that the products stayed within the province and were not shipped over the border into Ireland or the rest of the EU.

The offer comes as part of negotiations to solve problems caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol, the attempt to square the circle of Northern Ireland staying in the UK politically but remaining part of the EU customs union following Brexit.

The EU is set to publish papers on various aspects of trade in Northern ireland, including customs, the movement of food products and medicines.

However, sticking points remain, particularly the continued role of the European Court of Justice in supervising Northern Ireland’s trade.

Logistics UK reacted with cautious optimism to the EU announcement. Northern Ireland policy manager Seamus Leheny said: “The news of movement from both sides is welcomed by logistics sector – Logistics UK and its members have been clear from the outset on the tests which any new agreement must meet, and the solutions proposed by the EU are a positive step in the right direction. 

“Both the UK Government’s command paper and the recent EU’s proposals contain promising elements in response to the concerns and suggestions Logistics UK raised in its engagement with the two parties, to mitigate and solve the practical issues businesses and supply chains are facing in the implementation of the protocol.  The proposed solutions concerning the level of required data and checks associated with SPS and customs procedures are welcome and could reduce administration, costs and time associated with moving goods, especially food products, parcels, medicines and mixed load consignments from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

“However, Logistics UK is awaiting both the technical and legal texts before passing final judgement.  Logistics UK will continue to work closely with both the UK Government and the European Commission to discuss these proposals in full to understand how these proposals will keep GB-NI supply chains moving efficiently.”

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