“Cars being stopped and searched is not going to happen”

Whilst the BBC quote, at length, the concerns about a post-Brexit border of “a former customs officer in Donegal” whom they interviewed on Radio Foyle, the Irish Revenue Commissioner’s lead official on the topic has been speaking at a conference on Brexit in Dublin organised by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.  From the Irish Times report

The operation of a post-Brexit customs regime can be automated and simplified and does not need customs points with Northern Ireland, the Revenue Commissioner’s lead official on the topic has said.

Tony Buckley, the assistant secretary in charge of customs, said the new plan will involve a type of self-assessment and audit regime, possibly with, for convenience reasons, services offices close to the Border.

What exactly would happen at these services offices or facilitation posts would not be clear until negotiations had been completed between the UK and the EU on their new relationship.

“Cars being stopped and searched is not going to happen,” he told a conference on Brexit in Dublin. “There is no reason for it to happen.”

Asked if he envisaged a system such as the one that exists between Norway and Sweden, he said that border involved delays of approximately 15 or 20 minutes for trucks,.“We’re looking at that in seconds.”

Because a border was being built “from nothing” there was an opportunity to use very sophisticated tracking and surveillance systems that satisfied the EU, managed the risk, and achieved the Government’s objective of a “very soft borer”.

Mr Buckley said the new regime would probably give rise to temporary criminal and economic issues that would have to be dealt with. However, he said, overall Ireland has two big advantages in terms of dealing with the new situation.

The Republic’s trade with Northern Ireland is only 2 per cent of all exports, and Ireland is an island at one end of the EU without another land border. If something comes into Ireland, it is in Ireland and that’s it, he says.

The post-Brexit regime could involve checks being carried out away from the Border.

The border had approximately 300 crossing points, with 1 million heavy goods vehicles, 1.3 million light goods vehicles, and 12.5 million cars, going each way each year.

What would happen post-Brexit is that parties moving goods across the Border would have to lodge documents with the two customs authorities, which they would put into a computerised risk-assessment system.

There would also be random checks on trucks, and checks for certain risky items and traders. This might involve about 2 per cent of all traffic. For another 6 per cent of all traffic, there might be simple document checks.

Mr Buckley told the conference, organised by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Eversheds Sutherland, that 85 per cent of all imports and exports are handled by authorised economic operators, such as DHL and FedEx. Physical checks can be carried out within authorised premises operated by these companies.

The practical difficulties of searching 40ft refrigerated trucks along the Border was not something anyone wanted to contemplate, he said. “So let’s not do it.”