Ports: Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Office written question – answered on 21st September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the infrastructure that will be required at ports in Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Protocol contained in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

There will be no new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland. These rules will be administered by the UK authorities, who can exercise their discretion on when goods need to be checked.

We have always been clear that some process will be required on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain. Our proposals reduce this to the absolute minimum so that the integrity and smooth functioning of the UK internal market is protected. This includes, in order to respect the pre-existing status of the island of Ireland as a single epidemiological unit, some checks to help movements of live animals and agrifood from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.

Processes such as these already happen at existing facilities at ports like Belfast and Larne. And we are continuing to work with NI businesses and the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure new administrative procedures at all points of entry are streamlined and do not affect the flow of trade.

The Protocol obliges both the UK and EU to seek to streamline trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and to avoid controls at Northern Ireland ports as far as possible. In line with that obligation, discussions with the EU are ongoing about the process by which controls are conducted, and their frequency, in line with the approach we set out in our May Command Paper.

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