The UK government is to delay new controls on goods moving from the island of Ireland to Great Britain while negotiations with Brussels on the Northern Ireland Protocol continue.
The checks on incoming goods from the European Union – covering mainly food and agricultural products – are due to come into force on January 1st, bringing post-Brexit customs arrangements with the bloc in line with those with the rest of world.
However, UK Brexit minister Lord Frost said the existing arrangements would continue on a temporary basis for goods crossing the Irish Sea for as long as the discussions on the protocol are ongoing.
“The government believes that this pragmatic act of good will, can help to maintain space for continued negotiations on the protocol,” Mr Frost said in a written ministerial statement.
“It also ensures that traders in both Ireland and Northern Ireland are not faced with further uncertainty while the protocol arrangements themselves are still under discussion.”
The government is seeking major changes to the protocol – which covers the movement of goods from Great Britain to North Ireland – arguing the checks required are damaging business and fuelling community tensions.