After 3 days in Belfast, talking to all sides, here's what I've learned - on the business and the politics of this deal. And its viability.
- all-UK in a temporary customs Union
- Northern Ireland only in Single Market for goods, via devolution
- no checks GB-NI
- 'de-dramatised checks on regs NI-GB
- customs-union removes need for companies to do declarations when they sent their product to GB (since Single Market rules require companies to declare what leaves as well as what enters).
- So if UK gets 'all-UK' customs arrangement, big tick./4
(UK now accepts that GB biz will face SM frictions 'Dover-Calais' in this scenario, to obviate EU claims backstop is cherry-picking) /6
Clear guidance from source - and NI groups concur - is that this will be a 'one-way' border.
So UK Govt won't need to check. That's a 'tick' for the DUP on 'not being treated any differently'....
UK negotiators tells me they reckon they can get "pretty close" to delivering on Para 50 IF they get enough flex from Barnier.
So what does that look like?
The Lobby groups & business say that when you narrow it down, it's really 'food and pharma' that are the risk areas.
Looking at food..../11
But what about 'animal-derived products'.
The expectation I heard was 100% paperwork checks, but - given trusted traders/supply chains - physical checks in low single digit % /12
Well. First point is will it? In the immediate term there will not be great and harsh diversion. So what the EU needs is the *capacity* to ensure compliance, as and when the need arrives. /13
There is not much 'white van man' traffic over the Irish Sea. It's big supermarkets and exporters with farm-to-fork traceable supply chains /14
The mantra is "audit the system, not the transaction" /15
So to summarise, as Stephen Kelly tells me, there is "nothing insurmountable" here for NI biz. Maybe even an upside.
So what about the politics? /16
Don't know if that's right, but that's what I heard. /21