UK backtracks on Brexit plan for full border checks on EU goods

  • london
  • June 12, 2020
  • Comments Off on UK backtracks on Brexit plan for full border checks on EU goods
UK backtracks on Brexit plan for full border checks on EU goods thumbnail

The government is expected to take a u-turn on its plans to introduce full border checks with the EU after Brexit.

The UK had committed to bringing in import controls on EU goods from January 1, but ministers are now expected to adopt a more flexible approach over fears of the economic impact of coronavirus.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove is anticipated to make an announcement today over border operations for when Brexit fully comes into effect at the end of the transition period in the new year.

A government source said: ‘We recognise the impact coronavirus has had on UK businesses, and as we take back control of our laws and our borders at the end of this year, we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to help business adjust to the changes and opportunities of being outside the single market and the customs union.’

Mr Gove will have the second joint committee agreed under the Withdrawal Agreement with European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic today.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

UK sources said that unless both sides agree to another such meeting before the end of July, it will be the last opportunity to request an extension to the transition period.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted he will not ask for a delay, despite businesses and critics warning of the dangers of a departure without a trade agreement in place.

A virtual summit between Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, to try to break the deadlock in trade negotiations, has been scheduled for Monday.

The negotiating teams have also agreed to ‘an intensified timetable’ for July with possible discussions in person if public health guidelines enable them during the pandemic.

European Council president Charles Michel and the president of the European Parliament, David-Maria Sassoli will also join the political talks.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘The UK and the EU have agreed an intensified timetable for FTA negotiations in July.

‘This new process will involve a mix of formal negotiating rounds and smaller group meetings, both in London and Brussels assuming public health guidelines enable this.’

The pace of talks will be scaled up so negotiators will meet in each of the five weeks between June 29 and July 27.

The UK’s 14-day quarantine period for new arrivals should not hinder the talks in its current form, with the rules having an exemption for those on official visits such as negotiations.

The new details came after the fourth round of negotiations failed to reach a breakthrough last week.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier lamented there having been ‘no significant areas of progress’ as he accused the UK of having ‘backtracking’ on the agreed political declaration.

His counterpart in Downing Street, David Frost, said they would have to ‘intensify and accelerate’ the process if there was to be any chance of an agreement.

Both sides also said the remote meetings had reached their limit and that face-to-face meetings would be needed in order to progress.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Get the need-to-know coronavirus news, features and tips, right to your inbox.