People travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after January 1 — including MPs, MLAs, peers and government officials — could face having their personal luggage inspected by EU customs officers.
A new EU guidance document also warns travellers from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to familiarise themselves with the EU’s duty free regulations, as its excise regulations will also apply for January 1.
The shock proposals are contained in an EU document setting out its plans to carry out customs and excise checks at Northern Ireland’s ports and airports after January 1 2021 under the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol.
The EU plans — which include a ‘green channel’ for travellers with ‘nothing to declare’ on arrival in Northern Ireland — sparked fury last night, with a senior DUP MP describing them as “utterly ridiculous and totally unacceptable”.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader in the House of Commons, described the EU plans as a clear breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Lagan Valley MP said he first saw the EU document, dated December 2, on Friday, and had already raised its contents with the UK Government.
“Yet again this demonstrates how ridiculous the EU are being in terms of their unreasonable demands,” he said.
“The reality is that I and many other people travel back and forward within the UK every single week — and the idea that we have to be subjected to customs checks simply to travel from one part of our own country to another is utterly ridiculous and totally unacceptable.
“This runs contrary to the principle of consent: it represents a breach of the principles of the Good Friday Agreement to impose this kind of totally unnecessary measure, and therefore we expect that the UK Government will take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen.
“It is totally unnecessary. The reality is that people travelling between GB and NI will not be bringing caseloads of food or other products which they will then take to the market in Clones and sell.
“The EU are making themselves look ridiculous by suggesting this kind of unnecessary measure.”
News of the EU customs control plan for visitors’ personal luggage came as Brexit trade talks were said to be “balanced on a knife-edge” according to Taoiseach Micheal Martin.