Brexit Bitesize – New Backstop Proposals
In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister has announced a revised proposal made to the EU to deal with the issue of the Irish Backstop in the current Withdrawal Agreement.
The primary difference is to ensure that Great Britain (the island) is outside the Customs Union and Single Market – so trading deals can be negotiated with other nations, whilst Northern Island has a hybrid system and, by consent, effectively remains in the Single Market area but outside the Customs Union pending a subsequent agreement on trading arrangements.
The consent element is important as Stormont, as and when it is sitting, needs to vote to renew the arrangements every 4 years. This is likely to be contentious in Dublin and elsewhere as the question arises, is a backstop that can be terminated, actually a back stop at all?
The Government’s explanatory notes to the proposals explain the practicalities:
a. All goods movements between Northern Ireland and Ireland will be notified using a declaration; regulatory checks will not apply. Goods would be imported or exported between Northern Ireland and Ireland under either
i) a transit mechanism or
ii) a prior declaration mechanism. Goods moved under either mechanism would be under customs supervision by one or other customs authority from the point at which they are declared for export until they are cleared by customs in the territory of import for free circulation or placed under an alternative customs procedure. Cooperation between relevant authorities would help to ensure compliance.
b. Under either process the relevant customs authority will be notified that the consignment has entered their customs territory. Either mechanism would link the movement of the consignment over the border with the information provided to the customs authority, which could identify any goods requiring customs interventions. Physical checks – which would continue to be required only on a very small proportion of movements based on risk assessment – could then take place at traders’ premises or other designated locations which could be located anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
c. Special provision would be made for small traders to ensure that requirements on them could be simplified. These simplifications should respect the nature of economic activity between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
d. The UK and EU should take an approach which ensures that goods movements between Ireland and Northern Ireland should not require entry or exit summary declarations.
They go onto say that existing initiatives such as the Trusted Trader Program will be used to back these procedures. You can here more about that scheme at our Brexit Event on 24 October.
In the meantime, we will no doubt see the EU’s response to these proposals over the next few days.