After issues have occurred moving goods between GB and Northern Ireland since the start of the year, business group Logistics UK has raised the concerns of the sector concerning the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol with representatives of both the EU and UK governments.
Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for Northern Ireland at Logistics UK, attended a government roundtable on 18 February 2021 – chaired by the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič.
He commented: “Several formalities under the Northern Ireland Protocol are causing difficulties to logistics businesses; we need the right processes in place if the Protocol is to be successful in supporting trade flows. The roundtable opened a vital new dialogue between the business community and EU-UK governments but there is much work still to be done to smooth trade flows – industry needs to be given clarity, certainty and simplifications in the weeks and months ahead.”
He added: “Logistics UK laid out three key asks: firstly, we want to see the development of a Retail Movement Scheme to govern the transportation of agri-food goods, plants and animals between GB and NI. The checks on these items – known as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks – must be proportionate to the low risk these items present to health to prevent any unnecessary administration and delays. Secondly, industry needs to see the introduction of a Trusted Trader status for parcel operators to reduce expensive administrative burdens on placed on business to consumer consignments. And finally, to enable the successful delivery of these schemes, the grace periods currently in place under the Protocol must be extended sufficiently to enable longer term simplifications to be agreed and implemented.”
“Both the UK and EU government representatives expressed their commitment to reaching pragmatic solutions and I look forward to meeting again on a quarterly basis to ensure the Protocol is best serving the business community.”