UK lays out proposals for new customs relationship with EU

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

The UK has laid out new proposals for a future customs relationship with the EU - albeit one that has met with a negative response from European officials.

The UK has set out plans for a new post-Brexit customs relationship with the European Union that would allow British businesses to continue to trade easily with the rest of the continent.

A policy paper from the British government has underlined a desire for a "highly streamlined" customs arrangement that prioritizes frictionless trade by continuing some existing arrangements with the EU, while reducing or removing other barriers through new laws and the adoption of technology-based solutions to aid customs compliance.

It was also suggested that a new customs partnership with the EU could be achieved by finding an approach that removes the need for a UK-EU customs border, potentially by the UK simply mirroring European requirements for imports from the rest of the world where the final destination is the EU.

The paper also called for an interim arrangement that would retain close association with the EU customs union for a time-limited period in order to minimize disruption, ensuring that UK businesses would only have to adjust once to a new customs relationship.

International trade secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "Leaving the customs union will allow us to operate a fully independent trade policy in Britain's national interest which will benefit UK businesses and consumers.

"We will seek a new customs arrangement that ensures that trade between the UK and the EU remains as frictionless as possible and allows us to forge new trade relationships with our partners in Europe and around the world."

However, the proposals have been met with a negative response from European officials, with a European Commission spokesman saying that the goal of "frictionless trade" would not be possible outside the single market and customs union.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament's lead coordinator on Brexit, went a step further by calling the proposals "a fantasy", saying that settlements on citizens' rights and the Brexit divorce bill need to be reached before any trade arrangements can be made.