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Europa boss applauds post-Brexit customs plan

[ March 16, 2018   //   ]

Europa managing director and Brexit supporter Andrew Baxter has described a study by former World Customs Organization director Lars Karlsson for future UK-EU border relationships as “sensible and positive progress”.

Baxter says that the report, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizen’s Rights and Constitutional Affairs as a ‘step in the right direction’ and ‘wholly useful’ in Government’s decision-making process.

He said: “The study looks at cross-border movement and trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland but all principles and recommendations within it can be projected on to the wider picture for the UK post Brexit.

“In essence, it puts forward a proposal for what is known elsewhere in the world as a ‘Smart Border’ where customs and other border practices keep the border open, such as release before clearance, deferred duty payments and clearance away from the border.

He says that it suggests a process whereby hauliers make a simplified entry to customs before their truck arrives at the border and by the time it arrives, the driver gets a text message saying whether they are free to proceed or not. In 99.9% of cases the driver would be free to go.”

A post-import supplementary declaration would be carried out retrospectively. This two-step process would hugely smooth the flow of goods, versus current customs processes, Baxter believes.

He adds: “I believe trusted trader solutions which embrace technology and simplicity, such as automatic number plate recognition, enhanced driver licenses, barcode scanning and smartphone apps, are the way forward.”

However: “There has been a real lack of clarity to date upon what customs requirements will be post Brexit. And whilst this is only a report, I think that it is comforting to know that the EU’s own investigation into how to handle these matters in future has come up with these conclusions. The UK authorities have stated over and again that they would like to see as frictionless a border as possible, so I find it hard to imagine that these conclusions would be opposed in Whitehall.

“Whilst this matter is far from concluded, it appears that we are heading in a sensible direction, and I am optimistic that we will get a sensible and efficient customs solution post Brexit.”

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