In what has widely been seen as offering an olive branch to reduce ongoing tensions over the Northern Ireland border, the European Union has offered to reduce the number of physical inspection of lorries to a couple of lorries a day.’
According to the Guardian, Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said physical checks would be made only “when there is a reasonable suspicion of illegal trade smuggling, illegal drugs, dangerous toys or poisoned food.”
The move was described by the Irish prime minister, Micheál Martin, as evidence of “further solutions” and “flexibility” in Brussels. “I spoke with the British PM late last week. It was a preliminary discussion. We will meet again on these issues,” he said.
The increased checks and paperwork following Breist, which are designed to present a hard border on the island of Ireland, but which critics have said effectively create a border across the UK in the Irish Sea, have resulted in some supermarkets delisting certain lines in their Northern Irish stores, and have created severe logistical issues for many agricultural and horticultural businesses.
According to newspaper reports, Šefčovič said the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be made invisible if the EU had real-time access to data on goods entering the country to enable officials to stop only suspicious vehicles.
However, UK sources say they have built a system to give access to such data to the EU but Brussels has yet to use it. The EU has already launched seven legal actions against the UK for abandoning some of the checks mandated in the EU exit protocol, with a deadline of Thursday 15 September for a formal response.