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Border control after Brexit

Brexit is not far away. One topic that is regularly discussed as Brexit gets closer is how the nation’s borders will be affected. During the most recent release of the Henley Passport Index, residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners’ Group Chairman Dr Christian H Kälin pointed out that a “global mobility divide exists” and that “2018 will bring further uncertainty, with the UK still in the grip of ongoing Brexit negotiations”. She writes on the proposed government plans.

At the Dover-Calais border

Recent statistics show that Dover deals with up to 17pc of all the UK’s trade, with goods estimated to have been worth £122 billion last year. With this in mind, the Freight Transport Association’s Deputy Chief Executive James Hookman urged the government to make the free flow of traffic through Dover a “top priority” in the year ahead.

Port Boulogne Calais President-General Manager Jean-Marc Puissesseau has called for the UK’s Prime Minister and the European Chief Negotiator for the UK Exiting the European Union to not delay any plans to avert congestion in Dover and Calais. Mr. Puissesseau requested that Mrs. May and Mr. Barnier “be intelligent” about the economy when carrying out Brexit negotiations, before stressing: “At the moment, 70 per cent of food imported comes from the EU. Even if that goes down to 50pc after Brexit because of controls, it still needs to flow smoothly; people still need to eat. If there are delays it could end up rotting on the side of the road.”

Theresa May has already discussed the border controls between Dover and Calais with French President Emmanuel Macron. This is after the Sandhurst Treaty was signed in January, which is the first joint treaty on the Calais border to be set up in the past 15 years and is set to see the time taken to process migrants wishing to come to the UK from Calais to fall from six months to just one month for adults and 25 days for children. Mr. Macron hailed the signing of the treaty as an opportunity that will “enable us to improve the relationship and the management of the joint border”.

In a meeting between the two Prime Ministers, it was announced that the UK would spend an additional £44.5 million on enhancing the English Channel’s border security and that both leaders were still committed to the “Le Touquet” border agreement in Calais, whereby British immigration officials can conduct border checks in France as opposed to in Dover.

At the UK—Ireland border

The issue surrounding the Irish border is one of the larger matters that the UK Prime Minister has to resolve. The issue is that both the UK and the EU have agreed that there will be no border, infrastructure, or customs posts set up between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland once the UK has formally withdrawn from the EU. However, there are those — including members of the Scottish government — who are of the belief that due to the Republic of Ireland remaining in the EU post-Brexit, Northern Ireland will need to remain in the single market too in order to avoid any border being created between the two nations.

Talking about the issue, Darlington Labour MP, Jenny Chapman said: “Those wanting greater control and enforcement of rules on immigration after Brexit imagine the reinstatement of a hard border on the island of Ireland will help. It won’t. The common travel area has allowed citizens of both countries to move freely, give or take the occasional interruption, since 1925.”
It’s notable too that more than 100 million crossings are carried out across the Irish border on an annual basis. Within this huge number, about 35pc of Northern Ireland’s exports, which involves 7,000 small businesses, head south across the border, while an estimated 15,000 individuals cross the border on a daily basis for work and hundreds of children do the same to attend school.

There has been some action already to avoid complications surrounding this border. One of the most significant announcements on the topic in recent months being a deal sealed between Brussels and London in December. This deal set out three options for the Irish border:

• Option A: an overall agreement to be established that allows frictionless borders to be set up between the UK and all its frontiers with the EU.
• Option B: a bespoke agreement for Ireland to be established.
• Option C (to be used in the event of either a no-deal scenario or a hard Brexit): a guarantee of ‘full alignment’ to be established both north and south of the border, in a move that would in effect see Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union and single market.

It has also been reported that Theresa May is to work with Irish Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, to create a fresh plan so that a frictionless Irish border can be accomplished post-Brexit, which will not result in the EU requesting that Northern Ireland remains in the customs union and single market. Speaking after the announcement and subsequent bilateral talks in Belfast, Mr Varadkar stressed: “We both prefer option A as the best option by which we can avoid any new barriers [on the] border in Ireland, and that is through a comprehensive customs and trade agreement involving Britain and Ireland. It’s guaranteed that there will be more discussions and plans to come surrounding the UK’s post-Brexit border control.



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