09 February 2018
DUP MEP Diane Dodds has responded to the suggestion by the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier that customs controls on the border would be ‘unavoidable’ if the United Kingdom leaves the Single Market and Customs Union.
Member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee
Mrs Dodds said:
“Mr Barnier’s warning of customs controls is out of step with the three approaches set out in December’s phase one Joint Report between the UK and Brussels. That agreement makes it clear that the integrity of the UK must be preserved as our nation leaves the Single Market and Customs Union.
Everyone has committed to avoiding a hard border and the UK has said it will not impose physical infrastructure at the border. It seems it is only the EU that is brandishing the threat of customs controls. The impact would not be isolated to companies and consumers in Northern Ireland. The Irish beef sector, which sells 52% of all its exports to the UK, would be only one of many devastated. Perhaps this is the reason Mr Barnier doesn’t repeat his message of chaos to Dutch flower growers or German car manufacturers, who also rely on the UK as their biggest export market.
It remains the DUP’s position that best vehicle for finding border solutions is via the future UK-EU relationship, through a comprehensive free trade agreement and a fresh customs partnership with Brussels.
We will continue to pursue progress that is in the national interest and in keeping with the democratic result of the referendum. In working closely with the Government and articulating our concerns, we will ensure that commitments to unimpeded access to Great Britain for Northern Ireland produce continue to be upheld.
The EU previously committed to finding ‘flexible and imaginative’ solutions to challenges facing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Today, Mr Barnier committed the EU to the status quo, seeking to put into legal text an agreement which would see the UK closely aligned with Brussels post-Brexit and narrowing the basis for talks on future relations.”