When Britain leaves the European Union in 2019, the border between the north and the south of Ireland will be the only land crossing between the two jurisdictions.
Politically, the Irish border has become one of the most difficult issues about Brexit to solve, says Katie Daughen, head of Brexit policy at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, because the UK government has committed to putting no infrastructure on the island of Ireland, but wants to leave the single market and customs union. “There is no scenario where the UK can have both, which is why the issue of the border on the island of Ireland is now so contentious,” she says.
The UK government wants to leave the EU’s single market and the customs union to gain independent trade with non-EU countries, but at the same time avoid a hard border with Ireland.
The problem is, if the UK is out of the customs union, goods coming into Ireland from the UK will have to be checked for compliance with EU standards, tariffs and places of origin, and nobody wants this at the border. “I think politically the Irish border has become the most difficult issue to solve,” says Daughen.
“It is a fallacy that the UK can trade independently with non-EU nations while maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland,” she says.
The government has said technology could help solve the problem. Both proposals that have been put forward by the UK Government in relation to its future customs relationship with the EU rely heavily on technology.
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