Report published on 12 March 2018.
Scope of the inquiry
The negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU will determine how the border is operated when the UK leaves the EU. In 2017-18, it is estimated that £40bn was collected in tax and duty on border transactions. Moreover, 205 million passengers crossed the border between the UK and the rest of the EU, not including an unknown number of passengers who crossed the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
A recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found, however, that the additional resources required to operate the border, including the necessary infrastructure, may not be ready by March 2019. The NAO report underlines the importance of effectively managing the border to the UK’s national security, and notes the scale of the task ahead for the Government within a relative short time frame.
The responsibility for the border is primarily shared by the Border Force (part of the Home Office), HM Revenue and Customs(HMRC), and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). Departments have designed work streams to address different issues depending on whether there is an agreement with the EU or ‘no deal’. In many cases, the Departments expect that the issue will be resolved through negotiations and work to resolve it would only be necessary for a ‘no deal’ scenario. In whichever situation the UK leaves the EU there will be implications for how the UK border is managed.
The Committee will question HMRC, Defra and the Home Office about their progress in establishing the required IT systems, staffing levels, and customs declarations necessary both in case of an agreement or a ‘no-deal’ scenario.
Members also wish to find out how this might affect third parties, such as businesses and individuals, and whether enough notice and information has been provided to reduce uncertainty surrounding the management of the border.