Published: Tue, August 22, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Govt promises "close co-operation" in cross-border legal disputes after Brexit

Govt promises

Details of a new immigration system emerged as the government published a position paper on Northern Ireland in which it said that the United Kingdom would preserve the Common Travel Area (CTA), which allows movement across Ireland free from routine border controls.

Of the two models presented by the government last Tuesday, one would involve the implementation of "highly streamlined customs arrangement" and the reinstatement of the customs borders between the United Kingdom and the European Union, but this time would rely more on electronic tracking of shipments rather than physically checking goods and documents at border points. This is limited to the customs arrangements, but the agreement of such an arrangement would be the first step towards much better certainty for business.

An estimated 2.37 million people from European Union member states were employed in Britain between April and June this year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the highest number since records began two decades ago.

Downing Street has insisted the British government remains "confident" of starting the second phase of Brexit talks this autumn, after an European Union leader warned that the process would be delayed.

In the Government's customs paper, which can be seen here, commitments have been made to explore a Customs Union for the interim period between the United Kingdom leaving the EU in March 2019; with a new trade relationship between the United Kingdom and EU coming into place after this period.

The EU exports goods worth €314 billion (around £257 billion) to the United Kingdom, more than to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined, which is why it is in no-one's interest to see disruption and uncertainty.

The EU's system of movement of goods across EU borders without checks works on the basis that all members closely monitor shipments coming into the bloc from outside, to ensure the correct tariffs are paid and that goods meet EU standards.

Not only must they be the same, but there must be consistent policing of those rules. The U.K.is likely to oppose the EU's proposal that the European Court of Justice should have the power to rule on breaches of the overarching agreement and hand down financial penalties to the U.K. for non-compliance.

The position places the Government directly at odds with the EU's stance, however. Duties collected are paid to Brussels.

May to release her position on the European Court of Justice on Wednesday.

But the distinction may prove a narrow one for individuals who could yet find themselves subject to the rulings of judges in France or Germany long after Britain has left the EU.

The position papers come as the negotiating team in Brussels refuse to discuss future arrangements on trade until the UK's so called "divorce bill", citizens' rights and the Norther Ireland border are settled. In the "Future customs arrangements: A Future Partnership Paper", the United Kingdom set out a vision of how it wishes to construct a new, and deep partnership with the European Union.

"The exact form of the arrangements will be agreed as part of the negotiations", a ministry spokeswoman said.

"There is a lot to be had both for the United Kingdom and the European Union in reaching this deal".

"In practical terms they (Britain and the EU) would have to operate in the same way or the whole thing would fall apart", he said.

Andrew Sheets, a strategist at Morgan Stanley, said of the current state of Brexit negotiations, that "a choice needs to be made between "soft" versions that still encourage trade and "hard" versions that curtail immigration sharply".

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