BRUSSELS is drawing up plans to use technology on the Irish border — despite rubbishing the idea when put forward by Brexiteers.
Eurocrats will deploy “IT systems” to keep trade flowing between Ireland and the EU via Britain if there’s a No Deal Brexit.
Yet their negotiators have repeatedly insisted tech was unable to solve the Irish backstop problem, one of the main sticking points in Theresa May’s doomed deal.
In a dossier to be presented to EU leaders next week, officials say a fix “can be implemented swiftly” and that they are in “regular contact” with authorities in Ireland, France and the Netherlands over the contingency plans.
The move will be leapt on by Brexiteer candidates to become the next PM, who have argued the Irish border can be sorted with tech solutions.
The paper says EU countries should use the Brexit extension to review progress on new Border Inspection Posts and “ensure that they are fully functional from the outset” of No Deal.
‘READY TO SUPPORT THE IRISH’
It then adds: “Furthermore, the Commission maintains regular contacts with the most concerned Member States so that a land-bridge route between Ireland and the rest of the EU via the UK can be implemented swiftly in the event of No Deal, including support from the necessary IT systems.”
In 2017 around 85 percent of Ireland’s freight trade with the EU – some 475,000 containers – travelled through the UK according to official figures.
Chief negotiator Michel Barnier has made softer sounds over a “Max Fac” fix to the border recently, talking about the possibility of “drones” and “invisible controls”.
Asked how the border would be handled under No Deal, he said: “I do not want this option to be created but we are ready to support the Irish government. We have to protect the peace. The stability is not a question of goods or customs, it’s about people in Ireland on both sides.”
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EU officials stress that current tech still cannot eliminate all the checks needed to avoid a “hard border” as Britain has pledged.
They also point out there is a difference between managing a sea border and a land one.
The UK has already signed up to the EU’s Common Transit Convention, which is designed to ease the flow of goods between the bloc and key trading partners.