Brexit: Northern Ireland ‘being used as a plaything’ says Poots
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The UK and European Union remain in a row over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol – a mechanism created to prevent a hard border of the Island of Ireland. The legislation ties Belfast to the EU regulatory framework and effectively places a trade border down the Irish Sea – resulting in increased checks and red tape on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
The UK has urged the bloc to move away from the protocol and has unilaterally extended grace periods on some checks until October – triggering legal action from the bloc.
Last week, the European Commission President argued there is “no alternative to the full and correct implementation of the protocol”.
Ms von der Leyen added: “I think it is important to reiterate that the protocol is the only possible solution to ensure peace and stability in Northern Ireland while protecting the integrity of the European Union’s single market.”
Ursula von der Leyen has called on the UK to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol (Image: GETTY)
Northern Ireland remains in the EU regulatory framework (Image: GETTY)
However, a former Brexit Party MEP has argued there is an alternative to the current arrangements and insisted it was put in black-and-white by the bloc four years ago.
James Wells highlighted a report commissioned by the European Parliament in 2017 titled: ‘Smart Border 2.0. Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland for Customs control and the free movement of persons’.
The paper, overseen and published by experts from the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, puts forward a number of new and existing solutions to allow the free-flowing movement of goods.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Wells dismissed the argument made by Ms Von der Leyen and pointed out light regulation and the use of new trade schemes could ease the problems in Northern Ireland.
He also added trade between Belfast and Dublin only accounted for less than one percent of the £650billion worth of trade between the UK and EU.
The whole of Ireland is in the EU single market and customs union (Image: GETTY)
Mr Wells said: “Yes she is wrong… the European Union actually wrote a paper back in 2017 about how you can install light regulation in Ireland on the border.
“It’s not insurmountable we could have done that, like I said, that fact that it is less than one percent of the trade even if you didn’t have any regulation, the size of the problem you are talking about is tiny.
“So with some light regulation, no border infrastructure but some checking locations away from the border and trusted trader schemes, this really should not have been a problem that it is.
“And it is not a problem, this has been done purposely by the EU and Ireland, not so much to punish us for Brexit, but to take advantage of Brexit to take Northern Ireland off us.”
In the research document, the bloc advocates smart borders with the use of modern technology and de-regulation.
Ursula von der Leyen and former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (Image: GETTY)
It says the idea of smart borders were first used on the US-Canada border in 2001 and uses “joint facilities and customs data sharing for goods”.
The EU started its smart borders programme is 2013 and the paper cites trade rules established by The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
The EU paper says: “There is a range of international standards and best practices governing the operation of secure and smooth borders for people and goods, many of which are relevant for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
The EU document adds there are a “number of measures can be taken to ensure that as much government agency activity as possible is moved away from the border”, including Trusted Trader schemes.
It adds benefits include “reduced documentary and physical checks, and benefits under Mutual Recognition Agreements with other customs jurisdictions”.
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A UK Trader Scheme has been introduced by the Government and is limited to the movements of goods “at risk” to entering the EU market via Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
But, consignments of agricultural products must be accompanied by health certificates and increased paperwork – resulting in delays at ports.
Other mechanisms cited by the paper to reduce the number of border checks, include a Single Window solution, this is where businesses to electronically submit all import and export information through one portal.
The paper states it is a “key component” of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) used to manage information about goods between the private sector and governments.
Five key moments that led to Brexit (Image: EXPRESS)
A Gateway solution, first used on the Sweden-Norway border in 2003, uses existing infrastructure and customs information from businesses involved in the import and and export of goods.
Technology can also be used to track vehicles in real time through GPS.
Meanwhile, a so-called Green Corridor solution re-uses existing export data as the basis for border processing and imports throughout the supply chain.
Other methods referenced in the EU paper, include an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) management concept, a One-Stop-Shop process and creating a Unique Consignment Reference number.