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So there are checks after all!

January 24, 2020 5:15 PM

The publication by the EU of a document summarising the checks required between the U.K. and Northern Ireland makes sobering reading. Live animals and animal products going to the North will face regulatory checks and industrial products spot checks. EU institutions will have the same rights as today with the European Court having athe final say in the event of dispute. EU officials have the right to be present during checks.

Goods coming the other way face less checks but a form with 31 data elements needs completion angering the Freight Transport Association.

So why does it matter for us in the East. It's a Northern Ireland problem isn't it?
If our businesses don't trade with the North it is true it is someone else's problem but it matters for three reasons:

1 During the election campaign the Prime Minister promised his agreement contained no checks on trade which the EU now clearly demonstrates is not true. It may be the PM has failed to fully understand what he has signed up to or then again it may simply be that he lied about the issue so as not to have to argue his case during the election.

There is a third option which is he knows about the implications of the deal but proposes to ignore it hoping to fight the EU in court, hardly a great basis for future trade relationships with Europe.

2 For those that continue to support an integrated U.K. this creation of a border in the Irish Sea risks the calling of a referendum in the North and potential unification of Ireland. It was notable that Unionists lost their majority of seats at the last election for the first time as pro EU sentiment came to the fore.

3 The Port of Dover has raised concerns that security declarations would put at risk frictionless trade with the EU. Switzerland does not complete the forms because it aligns with EU rules something Sajid Javid our Chancellor has said we will not do.

Having demonstrated a willingness to put barriers in the way of easy trading there must now be a real concern that frictionless trade will prove impossible with the EU will not be possible to negotiate. If that happens our farms and businesses locally may well come to have to grapple with similar rules as the Irish with all its implications for competitiveness and jobs.