By virtue of the special provisions applied in the Protocol to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, there will be no substantive change for the movement of goods covered by the Protocol between Northern Ireland and EU Member States, including Ireland.
For goods in free circulation in Northern Ireland moving to Ireland or other EU Member States that means:
- no substantive change for goods movements
- no customs checks, paperwork or requirements
- no tariffs or quotas applicable, nor checks on rules of origin
- no EU member state able to impose barriers or frictions on goods in free circulation and authorised for the Single Market in Northern Ireland
- no discrimination against Northern Ireland goods by EU member states
This also applies to goods using the transit procedures. The UK Government will monitor the application of these provisions closely, to ensure that no EU Member State breaches their obligations or discriminates against Northern Ireland goods in any way.
These arrangements will enable Northern Ireland businesses to trade freely within the EU Single Market, as well as enjoying unfettered access to the whole of the UK market. Furthermore any approvals or certifications secured in order to place goods on the market in the EU will be recognised when seeking to place the same goods on the market in the United Kingdom – avoiding the need for additional approvals to access the UK market. This treatment will also apply to goods moved under transit from Northern Ireland to the EU via Great Britain (‘the landbridge’). Further information on transit movements is available.
This unique arrangement, providing Northern Ireland businesses with unfettered access to both the UK and free circulation on EU markets, reflects the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. It is supported and underpinned by the accompanying commitments to preserve the Common Travel Area and to maintain the conditions for East-West and North-South cooperation, providing the platform – alongside the commitments made elsewhere by the UK Government – for continued growth and stability in Northern Ireland.
Intrastat will continue to operate for goods moving to and from NI from the EU. Businesses currently providing Intrastat declarations for these movements will continue to be required to do so in 2021.
Case study: Northern Ireland manufacturer of protective equipment
At present, a Northern Ireland manufacturer of protective equipment may make a range of goods for use across a range of settings – whether rubber gloves for cleaning, equipment for use in construction, or sporting goods (such as shin pads).
Today this manufacturer makes their equipment in accordance with requirements set out in UK legislation (which currently implement EU rules). On this basis, the goods can be placed on the market in the UK and EU and sold freely across both markets. This will continue to be the case after the end of the Transition Period.
From the end of the Transition Period, the manufacturer would continue to produce equipment to those same standards and regulatory procedures (applied in Northern Ireland through domestic legislation in line with the Protocol). On that basis they would face no new regulatory or customs barriers when trading with the EU.
At the same time, the Government’s unfettered access commitment means that those same goods can also be placed on the market and sold freely across the rest of the UK, without customs declarations, tariffs, new regulatory or customs checks, or additional regulatory approvals.
For some products in their range, such as rubber gloves, the manufacturer would self-declare that goods met these new requirements (just as now). On that basis the products can be CE marked, which will be accepted in both the UK and EU markets.
For others, such as ear-protectors for those using loud construction equipment, the manufacturer would use a third party (a ‘Notified Body’) to assess whether they can be CE marked. If the NI manufacturer currently uses a ‘Notified Body’ based in the EU, then this will (as now) be valid for the NI market. The UK will also recognise this third party assessment, ensuring that the manufacturer can continue to sell throughout the UK using the CE marking – thus meaning there would be no change in the rules and procedures that the NI business followed today.
This means that the NI manufacturers can operate a single production line for protective equipment able to be sold in both the UK and EU, regardless of how the regulations develop or diverge over time – a unique level of market access for NI traders.