The UK Government has begun producing a serious of papers outlining its post-Brexit vision for relations between the UK and the European Union.
The 14 page document outlines how the UK will seek a transitional period before attempting to set up a system that gives it basically the same access that it has now.
There are some Northern Ireland specific proposals, but a paper deal specifically with this issues will be published at a later stage, but back to customs.
Here are the specific proposals dealing with the border;
However, the proposals do note that Customs issues would be consulted with a future NI Executive (if we get one back up).
The response from the EU has not, however been encouraging;
BREAKING: European Commission says “frictionless trade not possible outside the single market and customs union”
— Tony Connelly (@tconnellyRTE) August 15, 2017
Ian Dunt has some interesting analysis on some of the flaws of these proposals;
What’s really unclear, of course, is exactly why the EU would agree to this. There is an existing customs union, which the UK is in. It gains nothing by granting the power to form another identical one, for no reason except to make the international trade secretary feel better about himself. There is also considerable confusion over the legal status of this arrangement. We’d be out the EU, and therefore outside the remit of new EU law and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Presumably Westminster would promise to reflect any new EU law in its own books during this transitional period. But what about new ECJ interpretation of EU law? We just don’t know and it’s not clear the Brexit department does either.
After this period is over, the government is proposing two alternate models for a future relationship: a streamlined customs arrangement or a new customs partnership. It is not clear which they prefer or why. It is not even clear if they have a preference. What is clear is that they have no idea how much they will cost, if any new buildings would need to be leased in order to oversee them, what kind of infrastructure is required to deliver them, if new training would be necessary, how much the various technical solutions they propose would cost or whether they would fit into our existing systems.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs