A leaked internal report conducted by the Irish Revenue Commissioners has stated that any open border after Brexit is impossible to manage.
The report, of which the contents was revealed on Sunday evening by the Irish national broadcaster, RTE has said that in an a post Brexit island of Ireland, operating a customs border along current lines will be impossible in terms of manpower, paperwork, physical infrastructure and human resources.
The report noted in detail that a number of major changes to the current system will be necessary and will come in at an alarming cost to the Irish Government and the Irish taxpayer.
According to the report which was conducted over the last twenty four months, after Brexit, customs declarations will mean an 800% increase in volume from the 91,000 Irish companies estimated to trade with the UK. In order for the Irish revenue to manage the massive increase, they will be required to have a substantial increase in staffing levels as well as a increased holding of infrastructure in the form of new premises at airports, ports and major border crossings. The most frightening aspect will be the delays, which could be enormous as some experts are estimating that a HGV that normally took five minutes to pass though a checkpoint could be there for over an hour, especially at the beginning of the new system being implemented.
The report itself has undergone a number of updates since it was first commissioned and is still in a state of flux as currently there seems to be no clear path in how the border between the UK and Ireland is to be managed.
The report states: “Once negotiations are completed … the UK will become a third country for customs purposes and the associated formalities will become unavoidable.
“While this will affect all member states, the effect will be more profound on Ireland as the only EU country to have a land border with the UK.”
Not only will the impact be felt at the entry to the each state, but will also be felt in such sectors as the postal service. Expectations are that extra staff will be needed to handle more complicated customs laws and the knock on effect will be higher costs to the public who will be expected to foot the bill for something that will not be a major revenue earning section for the postal service.
In terms of air travel, smaller airports may need to introduce enhanced customs facilities.
the report stated that “Any such approvals could lead to the requirement for an additional, if not permanent, customs presence at such airports, eg Weston, Knock and Kerry.”
It also stated that “the control of a plethora of smaller aerodromes would become a more challenging task for regional enforcement teams in light of their current use by flight emanating from both Northern Ireland and the UK mainland.”
When quizzed on the report, a spokesperson from the Irish revenue stated that “it was never finalised as a Revenue report, and was not a statement of Revenue’s views.
“Thinking has now moved on very significantly. In May of this year, the Revenue Chairman told a Joint Oireachtas Committee that Revenue is not considering any new customs posts.
“The Government has consistently said that the best outcome would be for the UK to remain in the customs union and the single market.
“The Taoiseach has also said there cannot be a return to any border on this island. Ireland will continue to work closely with the Commission Task Force and our EU partners to seek the best possible outcome to the ongoing EU-UK negotiations.”
However, opposition parties are calling for the report to be made public and with the budget 2017 arriving next week, many are asking if the forthcoming financial implications indicated in the revenue report have been included in next weeks’ set of figures.