Ireland could be given money and other assistance from the European Union to help meet the challenge of carrying custom checks post a No Deal Brexit, the EU’s Tax Commissioner has said.
Pierre Moscovici, the EU’s Economic Affiars and Tax Commissioner, indicated Ireland could receive financial assistance while warning the customs checks would begin immediately post a No Deal Brexit.
Mr Moscovici repeated warnings that a No Deal scenario was becoming increasingly likely.
On the sensitive issue of the Irish border, Moscovici carefully avoided giving any clear answer.
Since Britain has told Brussels it wants to leave the EU’s customs union as it leaves the EU, the bloc says controls on animals and goods will need to take place on the land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But both London and the EU want to avoid deploying elaborate border infrastructure on this island , fearing that it could become the target of violence and undermine peace in the province, which saw three decades of sectarian violence at the end of the last century.
“In a no-deal scenario, both the EU and the UK would face a challenge of protecting their single markets … They would need to carry out the necessary checks,” Moscovici said.
“We are working closely and intensively with Ireland to organise these checks in the least disruptive way possible, and as much as possible away from the border.”
He added that the EU could give Ireland more money and other assistance to meet the challenge. He stressed that the EU expected Britain to live up to its obligations of guaranteeing an open Irish border under the Good Friday Agreement peace deal.
Other than Ireland, border checks would need to be applied immediately after post Brexit No Deal.
“The EU customs code would apply to all goods arriving from the UK,” EU Economic Affairs and Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told a news conference. “We have to ensure full application of the EU customs code as soon as the UK leaves.”
“If there is a no-deal scenario, new customs controls would have to be introduced … That does not mean we would systematically check every single … lorry … We would be controlling (checking) goods on the basis of risk analysis.”
He said EU companies trading with the UK had to be ready for additional costs and bureaucracy related to an increase in customs checks, while travellers and their luggage would also be subject to more checks than at present.
Moscovici said some EU members estimated their import/export customs formalities could grow by as much as half in the event of an abrupt no-deal Brexit. He said “complex calculations” of VAT reimbursements were also to be expected.
“This will have big impact on cash flow of businesses,” he said. “Without an exit agreement, the activity of thousands of European businesses and travellers would be disturbed by reintroduction of customs checks.”
Separately, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants the UK to be able to leave the EU with an exit deal on May 22.
May had agreed with EU leaders to delay Brexit until May 22 if her Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc was approved by parliament by March 29 but MPs rejected her deal for a third time.
She is now seeking to thrash out a Brexit compromise with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“What I want to see now is us able to find a position where we can across this House (of Commons) support the Withdrawal Agreement and a deal which enables to leave on 22 May,” she told parliament.