Business, Freight News, Logistics

UK government ‘planning string of Irish border posts’

[ October 1, 2019   //   ]

The UK government is planning to set up a network of inland clearance sites close to but not on the Northern/Ireland border says the EUObserver website, quoting a report by the Irish broadcaster RTE. The RTE says the suggestion is contained in a leaked “informal document” by the British Government. It also tallies with suggestions by FBJ contacts in Ireland who said that there were plans for sites to carry out customs and sanitary and phytosanitary checks in the Dundalk and Sligo areas.

The EUObserver report suggests that the so-called inland customs clearance sites would be about 5-10km from the border, with ten on the Northern side and a further ten on the Irish side. (The report does not say whether the report had been drawn up with the cooperation of the Irish government or whether this is merely a suggestion on the UK government’s part.)

According to the EUObserver report, traders would lodge declarations with national customs authorities and selected trucks would be checked and cleared by customs either at the traders’ premises or at the inland sites. Vehicles would be fitted with GPS trackers and traders could apply to become registered consigners or consignees and sign bonds with a financial institution to guarantee that they had paid customs duty, excise, and VAT and that their consignments would stick to pre-agreed routes – or become Authorised Economic Operators.

The proposal would replace the Northern Ireland “backstop whereby the UK would stay inside the EU’s customs union until an alternative solution was found, an idea that has been rejected by the Westminster Parliament.

However, Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney rejected the idea as a “non-starter” while the opposition Fianna Fail party called the idea “a border with a buffer zone” and something which “we cannot tolerate on our island”.

The Sinn Fein party described the plan as “menacing”.

The BBC reported Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester as saying that there would need to be customs checks in Ireland after the UK leaves the EU.  However, he rejected claims that would effectively mean a hard border and customs posts.