The decision to suspend Brexit controls on animal products and food being transported between the UK and Northern Ireland has shown that parts of the Brexit deal are impractical and need to be changed, says leading London auditing firm Blick Rothenberg.
Alex Altmann, partner and head of the company’s Brexit advisory group, said: “The challenges of introducing a new customs maritime border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been discussed for many years. We have asked for it to be implemented gradually and the government could have avoided this car accident. It is worrying that the people of Northern Ireland have still had to go through the chaos and it is now time for a full review and revision of the NI Protocol.
“It is positive that the EU Commission recognizes that the regulations of the NI protocol do not work and are causing major problems for companies and the local community. Everyone understands that the EU requires agricultural and food controls to protect its product standards in the internal market. However, the risk of importing poor quality food a few weeks after the UK left the domestic market is very small. At the beginning, an implementation period of one or two years should have been announced. “
Altmann added: “The NI Protocol created a customs border in the Irish Sea to avoid a customs border on the island of Ireland. In order for this to work, certain products that switch between GB and NI must be verified. The political situation obviously makes it difficult to carry out physical checks in ports in Northern Ireland and these checks should therefore be carried out in ports in Great Britain before the goods leave for Northern Ireland. “
“Another impractical feature of the NI Protocol is the complex system of double VAT and customs, with Northern Ireland remaining part of the EU single market, but also part of the wider UK common market. Even trade and customs specialists are struggling to understand the new rules, which seem impractical for businesses and freight carriers. The UK government should recognize that a dual VAT and duty system is not working in Northern Ireland and that a simpler, more rational solution needs to be found. “
Altmann, who is also chairman of the UK Chamber of Commerce in Germany, added: “The Northern Ireland Protocol is not the only part of the Brexit deal that is not working. The new customs border rules between the UK and the EU are also causing significant disruption and costing UK businesses millions. We also need a gradual implementation of these agreements to help companies adapt to the new reality. “