Reduction of post Brexit customs controls

The EU is proposing to ease customs controls on certain products to reduce tensions in Northern Ireland. The measure would reduce controls by about 80% and customs formalities by 50%.


Northern Ireland has always been a thorny issue for London and Brussels. The British government is fuming and threatening to unilaterally suspend the provisions of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. Indeed, the British want to renegotiate this treaty but have been refused several times by the EU. The threat that the British brandish is Article 16 of the protocol, which allows to suspend certain provisions unilaterally. A real sword of Damocles for the EU.

This text is also strongly contested in Northern Ireland, particularly by the unionists, who accuse it of disrupting supplies to the territory. The European Union proposed to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, October 13, to ease controls on certain goods destined for Northern Ireland. These proposals are a “sincere response to the concerns” in Northern Ireland, said Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic at a press conference in Brussels.

This measure would cover a wide range of goods originating in Great Britain and consumed in Northern Ireland. It would reduce controls by about 80% and customs formalities by 50%, creating a kind of “fast track” for these products, the Commissioner said.

In exchange, to protect the integrity of the european internal market and ensure that these products do not enter it, london would have to provide guarantees. These would include a label indicating that these products are intended to be sold “only” in the United Kingdom, or a “rapid reaction” mechanism to identify and resolve problems, failing which Brussels would take unilateral action, also returning to Article 16 of the new Northern Ireland Protocol. The Commission is ready to engage in intensive discussions with the British government in order to reach a lasting and joint solution as soon as possible, says the statement of the European executive. A delegation from the Commission visited London on Wednesday to present the European offer.

The desire to facilitate trade with Northern Ireland is clear, and the EU’s priority to do so is to relax customs controls so that goods can move more quickly. Customs formalities are necessary but can be time consuming and sensitive. This problem, Customs Bridge has made its mission: simplify customs. More info on