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New: The EU will “monitor” the extent to which EU law continues to operate in Northern Ireland after the post-Brexit transition period concludes on Dec 31, according to an internal EU document seen by RTE News.
2/ The document envisages the creation of “IT systems and data bases” which will keep track of goods moving to Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
3/ The working paper was circulated among member states by the Commission. It signals the EU will take a firm approach to the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. That protocol foresees tariffs and regulatory controls on GB-NI goods crossing the Irish Sea.
4/ The paper sets out how the Joint Committee, comprising EU and UK representatives, and a Specialised Committee will implement the Protocol.
5/ The document describes the Protocol as “a fully legally operative solution for NI…to remain in the UK’s customs territory” but one in which NI would “apply the [EU] Customs Code, as well as checks and controls, on all goods coming from third countries as well as from GB.."
6/ The document states NI would “remain aligned to the relevant EU rules (customs, sanitary and phytosanitary rules, regulatory compliance, state aid, VAT and excise rules).”
7/ The Protocol “avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the all island economy and the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions, [and] safeguards the integrity of the Single Market,” the paper states.
8/ While the European Commission will represent member states on the overall Joint Committee, the paper confirms that the Irish government “may request to accompany the Commission in the respective specialised committee…”
9/ There will be six specialised committees for each of the big divorce issues: citizens rights, exit bill, Gibraltar, the British base in Cyprus, other "separation provisions" and the Irish Protocol
10/ The EU foresees a two track process: one to properly implement the Protocol, through ongoing “monitoring” to ensure EU law is being applied in NI, and through the creation of “IT systems and databases” to govern the movements of goods back and forth across the Irish Sea.
11/ The second track is the working out of what exemptions and facilitations will apply when it comes to tariffs. The JC will have to work out which goods or categories or goods moving GB-NI are not at risk of crossing the land border into the single market
12/ The key message is that these two tracks are separate. In other words, the UK will be expected to prepare for all checks and formalities; it can't wait to see how the FTA negotations are going
13/ This reflects growing unease among the Commission and member states that the UK will want to renegotiate the provisions of the Protocol through the Joint Committee.
14/ One EU diplomat points out that the EU can only go on the short paper from the UK gov published last week. However, there have been plenty of reports and commenatry around Boris Johnson's repeated claims there would be no checks and controls, the diplomat says
15/ If the UK and EU reach a zero-tariff, zero-quota free trade agreement by the end of this year then that will remove the need for tariffs. However, checks and controls – especially regulatory controls – would still apply, according to a number of EU officials.
16/ If the Joint Committee cannot agree on a schedule of tariff exemptions by the end of the transition, says an EU diplomat, then the default is whatever the prevailing trade relationship between the EU and UK
17/ In other words, if there is a zero tariff, zero quota FTA, then there will be no tariff obligations. However, there will still be customs formalities and regulatory checks.
18/ If the trade talks break down over, say, level playing field, then the full range of tariffs that wd result will also apply to GB-NI goods. Whether or not that is an incentive for the UK gov to play ball on LPF is anyone's guess...
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