Boris Johnson’s government has been warned that failure to deliver special systems for the border processing of goods on the island of Ireland will likely result in legal action being taken by the European commission.
The Institute for Government (IfG) report also claims that the much-vaunted screening and tarrif systems for goods crossing the border and Irish Sea will almost certainly not be ready in 2020, with a more realistic time-frame being five years to full implementation.
“The [Brexit] deal has the support of no Northern Irish political parties and it looks almost impossible to complete the practical changes, for government and business, by the end of the year. Failure to comply with the withdrawal agreement could see the European commission begin infringement proceedings and the UK ending up at the ECJ [European court of justice],” the new report states.
The British government has insisted there will be no checks or new processing systems on goods crossing the Irish sea. The EU however has said such checks would have to occur in order to maintain regulatory standards for goods entering the single market.
With no certainty as to the final trade agreement between the UK and EU, detailed paperwork and systems have been difficult to finalise for Northern Ireland. The six counties will effectively remain in the single market, meeting its regulatory demands, but officially it will also stay within the UK’s customs zone.
This will mean implementing a complicated system of tariffs and rebates, along with much paperwork and some physical checks, on certain products being shipped from Britain to Northern Ireland.
The IfG report takes a stern approach to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who’s election slogan was “Get Brexit Done”.
“The UK will formally leave the EU at the end of January, and in that sense Brexit will be done, but many of the biggest Brexit jobs will be far from over…[I]t will continue to dominate government for years to come. The prime minister may hope to end Brexit’s dominance in the public debate after 31 January, but in Whitehall it will continue to be the biggest and most challenging task faced by a government in decades.”
The report ultimately concludes that the 11-month timeline for implementing the required border checks “is almost certainly undeliverable.”