EU wants “checks on goods” coming from UK after Brexit

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On a practical level, probably the most crucial aspect of the Brexit deal under negotiation regards the movement of goods. And more specifically, for ecommerce merchants trading cross-border, what will be the requirements when despatching parcels in the mail to the EU post-Brexit? Much of the commentary on the free movement of goods has focussed on bigger traders and issues and not that multitude of parcels from marketplaces sellers.

(Needless to say, there are a great many business concerns, as we’ve highlighted in other articles. But on an everyday basis moving into the future post-Brexit, issues related to exactly how goods pass from the UK to remaining members of the EU will be mission critical.)

There is no surprise in noting that the EU and Barnier have previously said that the protection of the single market, which is one of the key selling points and benefits of membership to the Union, must be maintained and protected. In short, whilst striving to find a deal, the EU interests there will be of paramount concern to the European negotiators. But the new documents outlining the UK’s position do, apparently, represent a way forward. Saying of the White Paper and the general thrust of the UK position:

There are some elements which do seem to contradict the guidelines of the EU council, the heads of government and state, namely the indivisibility of the four freedoms and the integrity of the single market. There is not a lot of justification for the EU running the risk of weakening the single market.
– Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator

The latest phase of negotiations will commence in the next week and central issues like the “frictionless” movement of goods (the UK will be looking for different arrangements regarding services), the UK/Irish border and general checks on goods will be under discussion.

Barnier has said that the EU doesn’t “want a border but we do want checks on goods since the UK wants to leave the single market”. And it will be crucial what form these “checks on goods” take. It’s not just about customs but also safety and quality. We’ll see how it all pans out in the weeks to come.

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