Northern Ireland Protocol close to breakthrough

A system agreed during the Brexit trade talks allowing for the sharing of data on the movement of goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland, and potentially onto the EU is nearing completion and is due for implementation.

The system will provide equipment and facilities to EU officials, as well as real time data to form a detailed picture of movement of products over the Irish Sea.

Although the system has been evolving over the past two years, it still may not solve some of the arguments created by the NI protocol, mostly centred on an issue of trust and how to implement a way of traders moving goods between the British mainland to Northern Ireland without the need for huge amounts of paperwork and the reassurance to EU officials that those goods won’t end up crossing the border into Ireland and then onto the EU.

One proposal to prevent this and as mentioned in our article “Green and Red Lanes NI Proposal” is the Trusted Trader Scheme (TSS) proposal introduced by Liz Truss when she was Foreign Secretary, her previous role before coming Prime Minister. The proposal states the desire to implement green and red lanes, the green lanes to be used by those “Trusted Traders” that have completed the necessary paperwork, and will have a proven track record of excellent record keeping and proof that the destination of the goods they are transporting is in fact their final destination.

What data do the EU require from UK customs?

There are two specific types of data the EU wants to tap into and which was agreed under the NI protocol.

The first requirement is to be able to tap into customs information for any specific consignment moving through a NI port.

The second aspect in the agreement was that EU officials would have continuous access both in real-time and remotely to five named databases. These databases are the customs declaration service, import control system for NI, the goods vehicle movement services, the new computerised transit system for NI and the freight targeting system.

The system which is now near to completion combines these 5 named databases into one central source, for which EU officials will be able to create a full picture of any specific consignment, ie what the consignment is, where it is going and the company transporting it.

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