Brexit and Northern Ireland – Economics and customs issues
Matters of economics and the customs checks required under EU law at borders will inevitably prolong and complicate any resolution of the Northern Ireland border issue and may have ramifications for the movement of people.
- 38% of Northern Ireland’s exports are sent to the Republic of Ireland
- £13.6bn worth of goods exported to the Republic of Ireland from Great Britain in 2016
- £9.1bn worth of goods exported to Great Britain from the Republic of Ireland in 2016
- £10.7bn worth of goods from Northern Ireland were sold in Great Britain in 2015
- £2.7bn worth of goods from Northern Ireland were exported to the Republic of Ireland in 2015
As part of the position papers published on 21 August 2017, the Government proposed either a ‘new customs partnership’ or a ‘highly streamlined customs arrangement’ post-2019.
The partnership model proposes moving towards no border at all with the EU, and various options were put forward as part of a streamlined arrangement but the paper is light on the detail of how it would work in practice. The idea of a customs border in the Irish Sea, which had been proposed by some Irish government officials, was dismissed.
The Irish Government and Sinn Féin representatives are critical of the British Government’s customs proposals, with Sinn Féin calling them ‘delusional’.
Click here to read the full Brexit and Northern Ireland briefing series.
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 UK Government Position Paper, Northern Ireland and Ireland, 16 August 2017