Northern Ireland and the Rest of he UK Post-Brexit

In this section: NI-GB trade, NI-EU trade, trusted trader scheme, customs declarations

The EU and UK already have a deal on Northern Ireland through the Northern Ireland protocol where the rules would have applied regardless of whether the two sides had agreed a trade deal. An agreement in principle was reached on 9th December by the EU-UK Joint Committee to ensure the Northern Ireland protocol is fully operational as of January 1st 2021.

As part of the agreement, the EU and UK have agreed a trusted trader scheme which the government estimates would mean exemptions from tariffs for 98% of goods flowing between GB and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021. The other 2% would potentially avail of rebates from any tariffs.

The trusted trader scheme would be subject to a sunset clause, three and a half years after the Protocol comes into effect. If the EU is not satisfied with the way the scheme is operating, it can trigger an emergency brake through the EU-UK Joint Committee. The system could be tweaked rather than halted completely, depending on how it is operating.

Exit summary declarations for goods going from NI-GB will not be required and the information will instead be generated from data from transport and ferry companies. Entry summary declarations and customs declarations will be required for imports into NI. On state aid, it was confirmed that GB firms will stay outside state aid rules where there is no ‘genuine and direct’ link to Northern Ireland, and no ‘real foreseeable’ impact on NI-EU trade.

Although the implementation of the protocol is the subject of a separate negotiation between the EU and UK, through EU-UK Joint Committee, the trade agreement means that the implementation work of Joint Committee will be easier compared to no-deal. This is because an issue facing the Joint Committee is "at risk" goods (goods travelling from Great Britain through Northern Ireland an into the EU without the correct tariff).

But with a trade deal, which eliminates tariffs on all goods that meet rule of origin requirements, the potential risk is greatly reduced. In addition, even if goods fall in the “at risk” category, if provided rules of origin are met tariffs would not be due.