Business Brexit

Sunday 25 February 2018

Revenue examining what Customs controls are needed in the event of a Brexit

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Revenue is examining what customs controls would be necessary in the event of a ‘Brexit’, including how many officers will be needed for the border.

With the crunch vote on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU now less than three weeks away, Revenue is analysing of what a ‘Leave’ vote would mean for the customs operations on the border as part of the government’s contingency planning.

The government hopes that the British public will decide to stay in the EU and Ministers are travelling to the UK to encourage the diaspora and Irish citizens registered to vote to support the 'Remain' campaign.

However, several departments and agencies are involved in planning for contingencies that may arise the event of a Brexit.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously warned there could be a return to border controls with the north. understands that the number of customs officers that may have to be deployed to the border is being examined by Revenue.

The example of the border between Norway – which is outside the EU – and Sweden – one of the 28 members – is also being looked at as part of the contingency planning.

Both countries are part of the Schengen free-travel area with random checks by customs officers of documentation and goods.

Such a model – if possible in the Irish case - would avoid barriers at the border, allowing traffic to remain free flowing.

A UK vote to leave would be followed by two years of negotiations between London and Brussels, during which Irish officials will emphasise the particular issues facing this country – including Northern Ireland, and the economic and trade impact.

Among the key areas of concern for Departments drawing up contingency plans are trade, market volatility and the North.

There is currently €1.2bn worth of trade between Ireland and Britain every week and any barriers to this poses a major risk to the economy.

There are warnings that a ‘Leave’ vote could see Sterling weaken by between 10pc and 15pc which has implications for Irish businesses exporting to the UK as well as British tourists coming here.

In terms of the North, the EU currently provides significant funding to the six counties and it has had a role in securing the peace process, with north-south co-operation helped by both jurisdictions being members of the European club.

A Government spokesman said: "We have a defined framework of action in place for both outcomes following the upcoming referendum in the UK.

"We continue to actively express the view through all channels available to us that Britain remaining in the EU is in Ireland's and Europe's best interest.

"But we must be and are prepared for both outcomes."

Several ministers, including the Taoiseach will be travelling to cities like Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Leads ahead of the June 23 vote.

They are to engage with Irish communities to ensure they’re aware of the government’s preference for a ‘Remain’ vote, while being respectful of the fact that the referendum is a decision for the UK.

It is understood that Mr Kenny will make a statement reaffirming Ireland's commitment to the EU regardless of the outcome of the British referendum when the result is known on June 24.

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