Government u-turns on plans for full border checks on EU imports from January, FT reports
The Financial Times has reported that the government will no longer pursue plans to introduce full border checks on EU imports immediately after the post-Brexit transition period ends, amid industry pressure.
The government had previously said it would bring in import controls on EU goods from January 2021, controls which chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove called “necessary” in order to tax goods appropriately and keep the nation’s borders secure.
However, given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses, the FT reports that a “temporary light-touch regime” will be put in place to allow firms to adjust, regardless of whether a free-trade agreement with the EU is reached.
The temporary relaxation of checks will apply to imports only, while checks on exports will fall under the jurisdiction of Brussels.
The government must also decide by the end of June whether it wishes to pursue an extension to the transition period beyond December 31, 2020, and is expected to formally confirm in due course that it will not request one.
A remote meeting is scheduled for Monday June 15 in which prime minister Boris Johnson will meet with the presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament, in an effort to revive trade talks which have thus far yielded little progress.
After previous rounds of talks failed to bear fruit, Downing Street has indicated that negotiating teams on both sides have finalised an “intensified” timetable for trade talks to run every week from June 29 to July 27, with the potential for some meetings to be conducted face-to-face should public health guidelines allow.
Chief UK negotiator David Frost said that the negotiating process had to “intensify and accelerate” if a deal was to be reached.
Meanwhile, Frost’s EU counterpart Michel Barnier said that there were “no significant areas of progress” in negotiations and accused the UK of “backtracking” on the political declaration accompanying the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement.