The Business Secretary said on Sunday that an EU-UK Customs Partnership could still be on the table, but what does this mean?
What Is The EU Customs Union?
The European Union Customs Union is a customs union which consists of all the member states of the European Union, Monaco, and some territories of the United Kingdom which are not part of the EU. A customs union is a group of states that have agreed to charge the same import duties as each other and usually to allow free trade among themselves.
Why Is The Customs Union So Important?
The Customs Union and what involvement the UK will have in this has dominated Brexit talks. The Government has repeatedly said that it will be leaving the customs union. However, this message has faced opposition from many MPs, some in the Government’s own party. Any final agreement will have a big impact on businesses in the UK and also in the EU looking to trade overseas.
What Are The Government’s Options Surrounding Customs?
The Government essentially has two options when negotiating customs in a Brexit deal;
A ‘highly streamlined’ customs agreement – Such a deal would see customs checks minimised, rather than getting rid of them altogether. This deal would require the use of new technology and agreements such as trusted traders. Companies would pay duties on exports every few months, rather than every time goods cross the border.
A customs partnership – This would remove the need for customs checks at the border. This would see the UK collect tariffs set by the EU Customs Union on behalf of the EU.
What Are The Opinions Of These Options?
Brexiteers want the Government to abandon the option of a customs partnership, as they feel that this would tie the UK to too many EU rules. Pro-Remainers, however, want to seek closer ties with the EU, and are therefore keener on a partnership, or even a deal allowing full single market access. Both options have faced criticism, and the Government currently appears split on which option it wishes to pursue.