The chief executive of Manufacturing Northern Ireland, Stephen Kelly, has told MP`s that most businesses in the region will not be ready for the mandatory border checks that look like coming into play on January 1st 2021, and has asked for an extension to the transition period.
Northern Ireland Protocol Will Involve Border Checks
As things stand the Northern Ireland protocol will involve border checks down the Irish sea at the beginning of next year, whether a deal is thrashed out in the meantime or not. Kelly believes a bit of give and take on the part of both the EU and the UK will be required in order for there to be progress and for the new system, whatever it may eventually be, to work.
An article in The Guardian says that Kelly told the Brexit Select Committe that: “Selling a lasagne at an Asda in Strabane that might make its way to Donegal is not going to pollute the entire single market,” so therefore he called for pragmatism to be used on both sides.
“The EU need to make it work,” he said but they needed to get businesses to “make it stick”.
“We are more than a pawn in the game and say that’s a tug of war and we’re the rope and that rope is sadly being stretched,” he warned.
Depressing Lack Of Progress In Talks
There does not appear to be any great progress in the talks between the EU and the UK so far, with time running out fast. In the same Guardian article as above the European commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis is downbeat and believes there is substantial work to do, he is also quoted saying: “I will not start putting specific deadlines: this week, next week. We have seen many deadlines come and go but there’s one deadline which we’ll not be able to move – 1 January,”
And a senior EU diplomat is quoted, saying: “I don’t have the impression that there is much progress,” the diplomat said. “It is time to say: we must now come up with contingency measures, 1 January is getting close. We need a safety net. Of course this sends out a political signal. But we have a business community that we want to tell in good time what to do. ”
Concerning Times For The Business Community
These are very concerning times for the business community in Northern Ireland and it is to be hoped that some deal will be sorted out at the eleventh hour and also that both sides show some pragmatism when it comes to trading between Northern Ireland and the other relevant parties.