Dundalk as it Happens
Minister warns that border checks may be necessary post Brexit
A Cabinet minister has warned that border checks could still be required on the island of Ireland post Brexit, even if Britain strikes a “very satisfactory” customs arrangement with the European Union.
Ever since Brexit has been on the agenda, there have been fears of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and the potential risk that would pose to cross border trade and particularly on the day to day lives of those who cross it daily.
Speaking yesterday Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said that unless that agreement requires Britain to maintain the same regulatory standards as the EU, some border checks could be required.
The Minister was speaking at a conference on Brexit in Dublin organised by Minister for Business Heather Humphreys to discuss the Copenhagen Economics report that has estimated that a “hard Brexit” could dampen Irish economic growth by 7%, starving the economy of €18 billion by 2030.
“Though we may negotiate a very satisfactory agreement on customs and tariffs, without having stitched into that an element to deal with regulatory alignment, we may well have a situation that, because of a divergence in standards, there’s an obligation to have checks at borders,” Creed told reporters.
“The UK, who would then be free to conduct its own trade agreement, could be a backdoor for entry into the European Union market of products that are not regulatory equivalent to that which our manufacturers are obliged to meet,” he said.
“Regulatory alignment is as important as the issue as customs and tariffs.
“Apart from wanting the closest possible alignment to the status quo, we are equally anxious that the UK’s capacity to do trade deals with other countries would be somewhat constrained in the sense that they would have to stick by the standards that currently apply in the European Union, ” said Mr Creed.
Britain pledged in December that if it cannot strike the kind of trade deal it wishes, Northern Ireland would remain aligned with the rules of the EU’s single market and customs union, both of which London is officially committed to leaving.
In the same agreement, Britain said it would keep Northern Ireland aligned with the rest of the UK as well. It remains unclear though how Britain can fully meet all of these pledges.