Brussels has offered London to ease controls on certain goods destined for Northern Ireland in order to reduce tensions with the British province over supplies following Brexit. This measure would have the effect of significantly reducing customs controls and formalities on goods originating in Great Britain and consumed in Northern Ireland.
Brexit continues to poison relations between London and the European Union. In an attempt to ease tensions, 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.
The proposals “tick all the boxes” by solving the problems raised in recent months without recreating a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union, the vice-president of the European Union told Reuters. Commission, Maros Sefcovic.
“I think what is very, very important to say is that there will not be another package like this,” he added. The community executive thus closes the door to a renegotiation of the protocol that governs trade with Northern Ireland, which risks upsetting the government of Boris Johnson.
Relaxation of customs formalities, reduction of sanitary controls
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 by 50% for all goods.
The implementation of these measures, however, requires Great Britain to keep its commitments in terms of controls, packaging and labeling and “strengthen the monitoring of supply chains,” says the Commission.
The latter also proposes to modify the rules specific to pharmaceutical companies established on British soil in order to “ensure in the long term the security of supply of drugs to Northern Ireland by Great Britain”.
No total resolution of the dispute
An integral part of the United Kingdom, the province of Northern Ireland – bordering the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union (EU) – has remained in the single European market for the exchange of 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 the other British provinces and stir up tensions among the Unionists.
British Brexit Minister David Frost said on Tuesday he was ready to discuss the proposals “whatever their content”, but once again called for a new protocol by demanding that the authority of the Court of Justice to the EU (CJEU) does not exercise. However, Brussels does not understand that a court other than a European one can legislate on the subject of the single European market. It therefore seems unlikely that the new proposals will end the litigation.
With Reuters and AFP