UK to briefly align with EU customs after Brexit

AFP
Theresa May revealed plans yesterday for Britain to temporarily align with EU customs rules after Brexit to 2021 as a fall-back option to resolve the Irish border problem.
AFP

Prime Minister Theresa May revealed plans Thursday for Britain to temporarily align with EU customs rules after Brexit as a fall-back option to resolve the Irish border problem, but only to 2021 in what was viewed as a compromise with eurosceptic ministers.

The so-called backstop proposal was published after a last-minute wrangle over the wording with Brexit Secretary David Davis, who was reported to consider resigning unless it included a time limit.

Brussels has proposed that Northern Ireland stay aligned with the European Union until another way is found to avoid customs checks with the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

London has rejected this plan as unacceptable, offering instead a “temporary customs arrangement” for the whole of Britain that would “maintain the status quo for traders in respect of customs processes.”

May has been clear that she does not want this option, hoping instead to resolve the border issue with a wider trade deal between the EU and Britain.

But she agreed in December to the need for a plan B if this is delayed or does not happen.

“The UK is clear that the temporary customs arrangement, should it be needed, should be time limited,” said the document, which has been sent to Brussels.

It adds: “The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest.”

Britain is leaving the European Union in March 2019 but has agreed a transition period where its position remains largely the same until December 2020.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, welcomed the publication of the plan, saying on Twitter that it would be examined with three questions in mind.

“Is it a workable solution to avoid a hard border? Does it respect the integrity of the SM/CU (single market/customs union)? Is it an all-weather backstop?” he said.

Special Reports
Top