European Commission Vice-President, Maroš Šefčovič reported on the outcome of the second meeting of the Joint Committee on the implementation and the application of the withdrawal agreement. Šefčovic said that there were some positive results but that much remained to be done.
While welcoming progress, he underlined that full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement is an essential basis for the discussions on the future relationship and that much remained to be done, especially in relation to the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Šefčovič said that the UK’s command paper was helpful it didn’t have enough operation detail and that the UK had to move from aspiration to operation, “and fast.”
Šefčovič outlined some of the areas where progress was needed, including Article 12 of the protocol, that allows the EU to verify the implementation and application of the customs provision of the protocol, the UK should facilitate such a presence and provide EU representatives with the information requested. Šefčovič said he is trying to find a pragmatic solution that would be merely technical.
Michael Gove confirmed that the UK will not consider an extension of the transition periods. This means that the UK will accelerate its efforts to make sure that the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is in force from 1 January 2021.
UK accelerates border planning
The UK has put forward its plans to a staged introduction of border controls for EU goods going into Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland) at the end of the transition period in stages. This will involve the creation of new border infrastructure to carry out checks and £50million of grants to accelerate growth of the UK’s current customs intermediaries’ sector.
From January 2021: Traders importing standard goods, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations. Tariffs can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination or other approved premises on all high risk live animals and plants.
From April 2021: All products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
From July 2021: Traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs. Full Safety and Security declarations will be required, while for SPS commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples: checks for animals, plants and their products will now take place at GB Border Control Posts.
The UK hopes to have the “best border in the world” by 2025.