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Irish trucks can keep accessing the continent through the landbridge after a hard Brexit

The Taoiseach said today no one knows what will happen in a no-deal scenario.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

IRISH TRUCKS CAN keep accessing the continent through the landbridge in the event of a hard Brexit, Cabinet was told today. 

Access by the landbridge – the UK transit route linking Ireland and mainland Europe – has been agreed between the Irish and British government under the Common Transit Convention. 

The Convention covers the European Union, European Free Trade Association, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Switzerland Macedonia and Serbia.

The agreement will ensure that traders only have to make customs declarations and pay import duties when they arrive at their final destination.

Irish trucks 

Around 150,000 Irish trucks travel through the UK for export to the EU every year,  that’s three million tonnes of Irish traffic a year.

It takes less than 20 hours to go from Ireland through Great Britain to the EU by road, according to a report by the Irish Maritime Development Office.

It takes 40 hours for direct roll-on, roll-off services (so, trucks that then go on ferries) and 60 hours for load-on load-off services (no trucks, just ferries).

Agrifood trade relies heavily on the landbridge, while two-thirds of Irish goods exporters make use of the UK landbridge to access continental markets. 


Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

Earlier this month, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys urged businesses to make sure they are ready to avail of the customs transit procedure for moving goods through the UK landbridge post-Brexit.

Businesses who wish to continue to use the landbridge will need to have a Revenue-approved comprehensive financial guarantee in place.

This comprehensive guarantee is required as financial security to cover all potential and actual customs debts such as customs and taxes, said the minister, who called on traders to contact Revenue about their customs arrangements

“Businesses that move their goods to or from mainland Europe using the UK landbridge need to be aware that customs procedures will apply to them post-Brexit.

“If a business moves goods through the UK, or sources their supplies or components from mainland Europe via the UK landbridge, they need to put in place a financial guarantee to be in a position to avail of the ‘Transit’ procedure to lessen customs delays and costs,” she said. 

“It takes time to put the necessary financial guarantee in place to be able to avail of this procedure though, so whether you’re a cement manufacturer exporting to Germany or a florist whose flowers come from Holland through the UK, I would urge businesses to start consulting with their bank or financial providers and Revenue straight away. Alternatively, businesses can engage a customs agent or logistics company to do so, but either way they need to start the process now,” Humphreys said recently. 

Border discussions 

Brexit preparations was also raised at Leaders’ Questions, with Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin asking about the level of discussions going on between the European Commission around the border issues in a no-deal scenario.

It was reported over the weekend that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was anxious for discussions about what would happen to the border in the no-deal scenario be escalated. 

Speaking about it today, Varadkar said: 

“It is not right nor is it possible for the Deputy to come in here and say that Chancellor Merkel said that or President Macron said this. It is not how the European Council works nor is it how it should work. If it has been reported that Chancellor Merkel said, ‘Get on with it’, I can say that is not the case.

“On a no-deal Brexit, the fact that I neither confirm nor affirm something that somebody is alleged to have said at a European Council meeting does not mean that I did not did not deny it,” he said, adding that he is not at liberty to say who said what at a European Council meeting.

Who knows?

The Taoiseach told the Dáil today that no one is sure what will happen if the UK crashes out of Europe.

“I have been asked a few times what would happen in the hypothetical scenario of the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union without a deal. Of course, I do not know for sure – nobody knows for sure – what would happen in that scenario. It will depend on various factors other than that.”

He reiterated to the opposition that no preparations for a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland have begun and no preparations for physical infrastructure, checks or customs controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

“Even in the event of no deal, we believe the United Kingdom continues to have obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. We have obligations under the Good Friday Agreement as co-guarantors. We also recognise that the UK will have obligations under WTO rules and we will have obligations to protect our Single Market and our customs union, which obviously creates a problem. It creates a dilemma. Those are the conversations we have to have as to what might be done in different hypothetical scenarios,” he added.

Varadkar confirmed that discussions have taken place at an “official” level

“Talks with the Commission have been happening at official level on exploring what contingencies could exist. What they will be nobody can say for sure because a lot of that will depend on what approach the UK Government takes if it maintains full regulatory alignment,” said Varadkar.

Martin asked the Taoiseach to share the details with the House, but he replied:

There is nothing to share, these are preliminary discussions. There are no papers or documents.

Separately today, Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald said there are “no circumstances, no excuses, no scenario in which anybody would have a justifiable cause to take up arms”.

She said Irish people, in Northern Ireland and the Republic, have embraced a “new reality of relative stability”.

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