Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (84)

Niall Collins


84. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport if he will address a matter relating to Brexit customs issues (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2464/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Since January 1, following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK has been outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union and this means that a range of new formalities apply to goods moving to, from or through the United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland.

The Government has been working to prepare for Brexit for several years – with an intensive effort across my Department alongside all Departments and Agencies, working on legislation, stakeholder outreach and widespread public communications to promote readiness.

In light of the difficulties being experienced by businesses with regard to the new customs procedures, which impacts all those involved in the supply chain, my Department has been in constant contact with our industry stakeholders to ensure we have a full awareness of the current situation at our Ports and Airports, and we share this information with our colleagues in the relevant State Agencies.

While customs issues are a matter for colleagues in Revenue, I am advised that they fully appreciate that the new regulatory requirements and customs formalities present significant challenges and impose additional burdens on businesses. These requirements can be complex, but it is essential that Ireland fulfils its obligations as a member of the EU and that we protect public health, food safety and product standards as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

As regards the performance of Revenue’s Customs IT systems, I am advised by Revenue that in most cases, further investigation of specific issues raised with them has revealed that the actual error has been as a result of incorrect data rather than a systems issue. However, there have also been some systems issues and, in such cases, Revenue issued clear and timely communications that enabled affected businesses to continue to move their goods. These notifications are available on the Revenue website but are also automatically issued to businesses that have signed up to receive Revenue eCustoms Notifications. I am assured by Revenue that it was not a systems issue that led to the introduction of a temporary easement measure provided to trade and business in regard to the import safety and security declaration (ENS) declaration. PBNs are being successfully filed on a daily basis by trade and business.

While recognising the frustration currently being experienced by business due to these new regulatory requirements, I fully support the Revenue approach of working with individual businesses and with the relevant trade representative bodies to assist them in building the understanding and knowledge of customs formalities and ensuring compliance with same. The aim of which is to ensure that goods movements between Ireland and Great Britain can be as efficient as possible, mindful of the fact that the trading environment changed irrevocably following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.