The British Government has said, on Tuesday, it does not want any border posts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in its new position paper on Brexit.
The paper is part of its negotiations with the European Union and the broad ideas in the document appear familiar and it suggests a “new customs partnership” or a “highly streamlined customs arrangement”.
Brexit critics have complained that the UK’s proposals lack credible detail on how that aim could be achieved.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which will share a land border with an EU member state when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
The future management of that border is a highly sensitive issue and is one of three main priorities in UK-EU Brexit negotiations.
The paper says the government does not want to see any physical infrastructure at the Irish border.
Brexit Secretary David Davis revealed they want a limited transition period to implement any new customs arrangements, including considerations relating to the “unique circumstances” of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Both the UK and Irish governments have repeatedly stated their opposition to a hard border, but the situation is complicated as the UK intends to leave the EU’s customs union.
The position paper sets out two “broad approaches” to future customs arrangements that the UK hopes will help to prevent physical customs posts along the Irish border.
The partnership model would “align” customs approaches between the UK and the EU, resulting in “no customs border at all between the UK and Ireland,” the paper claims.
Campaigners who oppose Brexit say the re-introduction of a so-called “hard border” would severely damage the Northern Ireland peace process and have a negative economic impact.
More than 80% of cross-border trade on the island of Ireland is by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Countries in the customs union do not impose tariffs – taxes on imports – on each other’s goods.
Colum Eastwood, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said the government seemed to be “effectively playing for more time
“The British government is still not ready, or at least unwilling, to publish serious or credible proposals on Brexit,” he said.