Replacing a customs union with ….. a customs union.
The government has published the first of its policy papers on Brexit with two proposals:
(i) A highly streamlined customs arrangement between the UK and the EU. That’s essentially an elongated transition period during which it wants to negotiate trade deals with other countries. This looks like having your cake and eating it
(ii) A new “unprecedented” customs partnership with the EU. This it admits would be challenging to implement which looks like having your cake and not knowing how to eat it.
The first proposal has already met with a negative response from the Czech EU minister saying it will not tolerate the UK doing trade deals during a period of transition. Others say the agreed issues of the exit bill, citizens rights and Ireland come first. So the response is you can’t have any cake until you’ve had your starter.
The next UK policy paper comes on Wednesday when the focus is on the Irish border and attempting to implement a seamless and frictionless border where there is already a seamless and frictionless border.
Meanwhile the Centre for Cross Border Studies reminds of the importance of negotiated inter-island relationships since 1998 saying: ” ….the Good Friday Agreement should not be viewed simply as a problem to be overcome during the negotiations over the UK’s exit from the EU, but also as a potential “flexible and imaginative” solution to the maintenance of post-Brexit relations. And it proposes some modelling for the future:
That one possible model under this framework maintains current flows of goods and services between the UK and Ireland, but that no goods or services from the UK enter further into the EU.
That a second possible model also allows for the flow of goods and services from Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.