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Britain will not exclude possible EU oversight of UK borders after Brexit

Britain will not rule out the possibility of the European Union retaining oversight of customs controls at UK borders after Brexit

21 August 2017, 8:20am
The EU anti-fraud agency OLAF polices customs agencies across Europe to ensure they are correctly monitoring imports
The EU anti-fraud agency OLAF polices customs agencies across Europe to ensure they are correctly monitoring imports
Britain’s Brexit negotiators have not ruled out giving the EU oversight of customs controls at UK borders in a bid to retain access to European markets after the country leaves the bloc.

Last week, the UK published a policy document proposing two possible models for British-EU customs arrangements after withdrawal from the EU in 2019.

The first model was a "highly streamlined customs arrangement" which involved the re-introduction of a customs border but which envisaged electronic tracking of shipments, rather than physical checks of goods and documents at the border.

An alternative proposal was the "new customs partnership" which would remove the need for a UK-EU customs border altogether.

Under this model, the UK would operate as if it was still part of the bloc for customs purposes. British goods would be exported tariff-free and Britain would levy EU tariffs on goods coming into the UK for onward passage to the EU directly or as components in UK export goods.

But legal experts said there would be a need for a mechanism to oversee this new partnership to ensure Britain, as a non-EU member, was correctly monitoring goods coming into the UK and destined for Europe.

The EU’s system of movement of goods across EU borders without checks works on the basis that all members closely monitor shipments coming into the bloc from outside, to ensure the correct tariffs are paid and that goods meet EU standards.

The EU anti-fraud agency OLAF polices customs agencies across Europe to ensure they are correctly monitoring imports. OLAF has the powers to conduct on-the-spot inspections and seek information from customs bodies.

If OLAF finds weaknesses in a country’s systems and that the member is not charging the appropriate duties on imports from outside the EU, it will recommend that the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, should recover money from the offending member.

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