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On Wednesday, the Westminster Government published its Northern Ireland protocol, which confirmed there would be checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. The papers also revealed Northern Ireland would have to follow some EU rules on agriculture and manufactured goods, in order to ensure access to European markets and keep the border with the Republic open.
Fianna Fáil MEPs Barry Andrews and Billy Kelleher have insisted the Prime Minister’s plans are “worrying”.
The EU has previously raised concerns over the UK using Northern Ireland as a backdoor for goods from Europe.
Mr Andrews and Mr Kelleher believe the bloc will question whether a trade border on the Irish Sea can work without stringent checks.
Boris Johnson’s plans for Northern Ireland have been criticised (Image: PA)
Michael Gove has outlined the Government’s Brexit plan for Northern Ireland (Image: PA)
In a joint statement they said: “We are alarmed at how the British government is interpreting the Irish protocol.
“Some of the language used in the implementation guidelines is worrying.
“What the British government is proposing is quite a light touch.
“We believe it could cause the European Commission to question whether keeping the trade border in the Irish Sea is still viable.”
The EU has previously raised concerns over goods travelling from the republic to Northern Ireland (Image: PA)
The protocol says there will be no need for an international border down the Irish Sea as screening will be supported by electronic processes.
However, some limited additional process surrounding goods arriving in Northern Ireland will be needed using “all flexibilities and discretion”.
There will be no new physical infrastructure to conduct customs checks but some existing entry points for agricultural goods will “expand” to provide for “proportionate” additional controls.
The paper says: “Some checks will be needed, supported by relevant electronic processes, in line with the island of Ireland’s existing status as a single epidemiological unit, building on what already happens at ports like Larne and Belfast.
Ireland’s deputy premier Simon Coveney has raised concerns over customs checks (Image: PA)
“What the protocol does not do is create – nor does it include any provision for creating – any kind of international border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“That means its provisions must entail the minimum possible bureaucratic consequences for business and traders, particularly those carrying out their affairs entirely within the UK customs territory.”
Ireland’s deputy premier Simon Coveney said there would be scepticism in the EU over the plans for no new customs infrastructure.
He told Irish broadcaster RTE: “I think the really tricky area will be around customs.
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A timeline of Brexit until January 2021 (Image: EXPRESS)
“And I think there will be a lot of sceptical people in the EU when they hear the British government saying there will be no new physical infrastructure around customs in Northern Ireland or in Great Britain facing Northern Ireland.”
Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, outlined the plans in the House of Commons and said Northern Ireland businesses would have “unfettered access” to UK markets.
He said: “Our proposals will deliver unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the whole of the UK market.
“Ensure there are no tariffs on goods remaining within the UK customs territory, discharge our obligations without the need for any new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland.
“And, finally, guarantee that Northern Ireland businesses benefit from the lower tariffs we deliver through our new free trade agreements with third countries.”