The European Commission proposed, Wednesday, October 13, to remove most of the controls imposed on British food products arriving in Northern Ireland and to ease customs formalities more widely, in an attempt to ease tensions with London on this crucial aspect. of the post-Brexit agreement.
This measure would concern ” a wide range “ goods from Great Britain and “Consumed in Northern Ireland”. It would have the effect of reducing controls by around 80% and customs formalities by 50%, creating a sort of ” Expressway “ for these products, according to a press release from the European Commission.
These proposals “Tick all the boxes” to resolve the issues raised in recent months without recreating a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union (EU), the vice-president of the Commission told Reuters, Maros Sefcovic.
No renegotiation of the Northern Irish protocol
In return, to protect the integrity of the European internal market and ensure that these products do not enter it, London should give guarantees, such as a label stating that they are intended for sale. ” uniquely “ in the United Kingdom and a “Rapid reaction” to identify and solve the problems, under penalty of unilateral action on the part of Brussels.
“I believe that what is very, very important to say is that there will be no other package like this”Mr. Sefcovic added, presenting the measures. The Community executive thus closes the door to a renegotiation of the Northern Irish protocol, the part of the treaty which modifies the statute of the province – it remains in the United Kingdom but also in the European internal market.
Boris Johnson’s European affairs minister, David Frost, said on Tuesday that he was ready to discuss the proposals. “Whatever their content”, but he once again called for a protocol demanding that the authority of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) not be exercised. Brussels has, however, repeatedly reiterated its refusal for a non-European jurisdiction to legislate on the single European market.
Easier customs formalities
The solutions proposed by Brussels include the reduction of around 80% of the sanitary and phytosanitary controls required so far for UK food, plant and animal products destined for Northern Ireland. Customs formalities would also be relaxed for all goods, which would result in a halving of the documents to be provided.
The implementation of these measures, however, requires Great Britain to keep its commitments in terms of controls, packaging and labeling and “Strengthen oversight of supply chains”, specifies the Commission. The latter also proposes to modify the rules specific to pharmaceutical companies established on British soil in order to“To ensure the long-term security of drug supply to Northern Ireland by Great Britain”.
An integral part of the United Kingdom, the province of Northern Ireland, bordering the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU, has remained in the single European market for trade in goods, which means that its exports to the rest of the EU are not subject to customs controls or tariffs and are not subject to special formalities.
For Brussels, this arrangement, which creates a de facto customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea, preserves the single European market while allowing Northern Irish trade to benefit from the advantages of both worlds. But for London, controls on goods transiting by sea to supply Northern Ireland materialize its separation from other British provinces and fuel tensions among Unionists – supporters of maintaining the province in the United Kingdom.