Government delays controls on imports to GB from Ireland but keeps 1 January deadline for rest of EU

Wed 15 Dec 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The government has announced it is delaying the introduction of full customs controls and veterinary checks on goods moving from Ireland into Great Britain – a move prompted by negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol continuing into the New Year.

However the government will proceed with introducing full controls on trade from the rest of the EU on 1 January 2022, as part of the phasing in of the Border Operating Model.

Northern Ireland Protocol

In a written statement to Parliament published today (Wednesday 15 December), Brexit negotiator Lord Frost said controls for goods entering GB from the island of Ireland cannot be implemented while the Northern Ireland Protocol is under negotiation.

Implementing border controls for goods moving from the island of Ireland “is particularly complex,” he said, adding that talks on the NI Protocol “will definitely not be completed by 1 January”.

Complexity

The complexity arises as there are treaty and legislative commitments to “unfettered access” for goods from Northern Ireland, because there are currently “standstill” arrangements in place for operating the Northern Ireland Protocol, Lord Frost said.

He also said customs controls could not be introduced while negotiations on the protocol are still under way and unlikely to be “definitively completed” by 1 January 2022, when controls for goods imported from other EU countries start being implemented.

What delay means

The delay means that goods moving from the island of Ireland, including from EU member state the Republic of Ireland, directly to GB will continue on the current basis “until further notice”.

Full import declarations “for all other inbound goods” from the EU will still be due from 1 January 2022.

‘Pragmatic act’

Lord Frost called the delay for Ireland-to-GB imports a “pragmatic act of good will” as negotiations with the EU continue on the protocol.

“It also ensures that traders in both Ireland and Northern Ireland are not faced with further uncertainty while the protocol arrangements themselves are still under discussion,” Lord Frost said.