Belfast Telegraph

Irish Sea border: What UK/EU withdrawal agreement says on goods movement

Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)
Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)

The EU's Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted there will be a trade border in the Irish Sea under Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

Mr Barnier made the comments after the PM's repeated denials that the withdrawal agreement would lead to a trade border.

Mr Johnson's comments have led to much confusion around the issue, with many pointing to his own agreement as proof that checks and controls would be required on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Speaking in Belfast on Monday the Prime Minister said that he could not "see any circumstances whatever in which there will be any need for checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to GB.

"The only circumstances in which you could imagine the need for checks coming from GB to NI, as I've explained before, is if those goods were going on into Ireland and we had not secured, which I hope and I'm confident we will, a zero tariff, zero quota agreement with our friends and partners in the EU," he told a press conference.

On Tuesday Mr Barnier told the European Parliament that ""the implementation of this (deal) foresees checks and controls entering the island of Ireland".

During the General Election campaign, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed a leaked Government document proved there would be custom checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The 15-page Treasury document said there would be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

It also claimed there would be customs declarations, checks and "potentially damaging tariffs", for trade travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The withdrawal agreement says that Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules on food and manufactured goods, while the rest of the UK will not.

Northern Ireland will also continue to follow EU customs rules and will remain part of the UK's customs territory.

This will lead to customs checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Even if a zero tariff trade deal is reached there will still be customs formalities as Northern Ireland will be enforcing the EU's customs rules at its ports.

The EU's rules on "products of animal origin" means that meat, fish and dairy products must enter the EU through border inspection posts where they are subject to document checks, with some selected for physical checks.

When these products are moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland they would be subject to these checks whether they are travelling to the Republic of Ireland or not.

A zero tariff trade deal would remove costs around products which are deemed "at risk" of entering the EU after travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The withdrawal agreement states on customs and movement of goods:

No customs duties shall be payable for a good brought into Northern Ireland from another part of the United Kingdom by direct transport, notwithstanding paragraph 3, unless that good is at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union, whether by itself or forming part of another good following processing.

The customs duties in respect of a good being moved by direct transport to Northern Ireland other than from the Union or from another part of the United Kingdom shall be the duties applicable in the United Kingdom, notwithstanding paragraph 3, unless that good is at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union, whether by itself or forming part of another good following processing.

No duties shall be payable by, as relief shall be granted to, residents of the United Kingdom for personal property, as defined in point (c) of Article 2(1) of Council Regulation 1186/20091, brought into Northern Ireland from another part of the United Kingdom.

For the purposes of the first and second subparagraphs of paragraph 1, a good brought into Northern Ireland from outside the Union shall be considered to be at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union unless it is established that that good:

(a) will not be subject to commercial processing in Northern Ireland; and

(b) fulfils the criteria established by the Joint Committee in accordance with the fourth subparagraph of this paragraph.

For the purposes of this paragraph, "processing" means any alteration of goods, any transformation of goods in any way, or any subjecting of goods to operations other than for the purpose of preserving them in good condition or for adding or affixing marks, labels, seals or any other documentation to ensure compliance with any specific requirements.

Before the end of the transition period, the Joint Committee shall by decision establish the conditions under which processing is to be considered not to fall within point (a) of the first subparagraph, taking into account in particular the nature, scale and result of the processing.

Before the end of the transition period, the Joint Committee shall by decision establish the criteria for considering that a good brought into Northern Ireland from outside the Union is not at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union. The Joint Committee shall take into consideration, inter alia:

(a) the final destination and use of the good;

(b) the nature and value of the good;

(c) the nature of the movement; and

(d) the incentive for undeclared onward-movement into the Union, in particular incentives resulting from the duties payable pursuant to paragraph 1.

The Joint Committee may amend at any time its decisions adopted pursuant to this paragraph. In taking any decision pursuant to this paragraph, the Joint Committee shall have regard to the specific circumstances in Northern Ireland.

3. Legislation as defined in point (2) of Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 shall apply to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland (not including the territorial waters of the United Kingdom). However, the Joint Committee shall establish the conditions, including in quantitative terms, under which certain fishery and aquaculture products, as set out in Annex I to Regulation (EU) 1379/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1, brought into the customs territory of the Union defined in Article 4 of

Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 by vessels flying the flag of the United Kingdom and having their port of registration in Northern Ireland are exempted from duties.

The provisions of Union law listed in Annex 2 to this Protocol shall also apply, under the conditions set out in that Annex, to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland.

5. Articles 30 and 110 TFEU shall apply to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland. Quantitative restrictions on exports and imports shall be prohibited between the Union and Northern Ireland.

6. Customs duties levied by the United Kingdom in accordance with paragraph 3 are not remitted to the Union.

Subject to Article 10, the United Kingdom may in particular:

(a) reimburse duties levied pursuant to the provisions of Union law made applicable by paragraph 3 in respect of goods brought into Northern Ireland;

(b) provide for circumstances in which a customs debt which has arisen is to be waived in respect of goods brought into Northern Ireland;

(c) provide for circumstances in which customs duties are to be reimbursed in respect of goods that can be shown not to have entered the Union; and

(d) compensate undertakings to offset the impact of the application of paragraph 3.

In taking decisions under Article 10, the European Commission shall take the circumstances in Northern Ireland into account as appropriate.

7. No duties shall be payable on consignments of negligible value, on consignments sent by one individual to another or on goods contained in travellers' personal baggage, under the conditions set out in the legislation referred to in paragraph 3.

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