At the end of March 2019, when the UK leaves the European Union, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be the only land border between Britain and the European Union.
Will this mean passport checks? “Currently, this seems unlikely,” said Road Haulage Association (RHA) Director of Policy, Rod McKenzie.
“The EU has already indicated that in the final deal it would like to see a codified version of the 1920s common travel agreement – which means passport-free travel for Irish and British citizens between the two islands.”
“Since the Good Friday agreement ended the Troubles almost 20 years ago, the border has become invisible. However, as the UK has said it will leave the EU internal market, it is inevitable that there will be customs controls imposed.”
Trade and services between both sides now flourishes with over 30,000 people crossing the Ireland-Northern Ireland border daily.
“Automating customs controls so that goods can move without delay at the land border is essential – achieving this will be difficult. The RHA is urging the Governments to reach an agreement for customs formalities to be done away from the border itself.”
“This will be possible, but will need a significant investment in time and money for companies moving goods over the border. We need an implementation period to give time to customs and businesses the time to put in place the systems to manage any new system.”
“Any agreement must ensure that Ireland does not become a back door for unauthorised migrants, desperate to reach the UK.”
In conclusion, Rod McKenzie said: “The journey between Northern Ireland and the Republic is only a matter of metres and represents no deterrent at all. Controlling the movement of goods will be a challenge for everyone crossing the border”.