Official says just three weeks left to ensure a ‘smooth end’ to Brexit transition period

PUBLISHED: 09:13 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:56 05 June 2020

The Peace Bridge crosses the River Foyle in sight of The Guildhall building in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The Peace Bridge crosses the River Foyle in sight of The Guildhall building in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

2013 Getty Images

A senior official in Northern Ireland has warned there are just three weeks left to finalise plans for a “smooth end” to the Brexit transition period.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.

Measures must be in place to carry out checks on goods moving between the region and Great Britain after the UK leaves the EU to comply with the Northern Ireland Protocol, but chief vet Robert Huey told Stormont that in order to secure approvals for border check processes by the end of the transition period, the application needs to be completed by June 24, 2020.

He told MLAs on the agriculture committee he wanted to set expectations, adding that “a smooth end to transition is no longer possible - that can’t be delivered”.

“Let’s start with that realisation. What we are trying to deliver is a minimal viable product to keep product moving, to keep food on shelves on January 1, 2021 - that’s how serious it is,” he said.

“The last date to go to the European Commission to expect them to do the work they need to do to designate border control posts was March 31, but they’ve given us an extension through to the end of June. That work has to be done in effect by June 23/24.”


Have your say

Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing letters@theneweuropean.co.uk and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.


The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) permanent secretary Denis McMahon told MLAs there are around 200 lorries entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain every day.

He explained officials are working on plans to extend current facilities at ports into EU approved border control posts.

You may also want to watch:

Dr McMahon said officials have met with Larne, Belfast, Warrenpoint, Foyle sea ports and the two main airports, and are working seven days a week on the application.

“We have a lot of work to do and a very short amount of time to do it in,” he said.

He said a paper was published by the UK government on May 20 was the first “clear mandate” and “clarity of the UK government’s position”.

“We’re now moving from information gathering to active delivery planning in anticipation we will need to move quickly,” he said.

Dr McMahon said officials need support from both the UK Government and EU to “make this work”.

“The UK government has confirmed it will provide the Northern Ireland Executive with support and expertise to deliver the project but this is not the only support we need,” he said.

“Importantly the success of this project is not entirely within our control. We will need the help of both the UK Government and the EU to make this work, and they will need to help us work through these issues over the coming weeks and months.

“Basically the simpler the processes while maintaining biosecurity, promoting public health and complying with the law, the more likely we will be able to succeed in our aim of reducing trade friction.”

Dr McMahon said 60% of UK food imports are from the EU and 70% of the retail food supply to Northern Ireland comes from Great Britain, adding “to put it bluntly, we all need to make this work”.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £20

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest pro-European campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.