No Brexit tech fix
There is no tech fix for the Irish hard border and other customs issues posed by Brexit. “Checks necessitate some form of physical infrastructure – technology does not yet provide the answer”, says a new UK parliamentary report, Brexit: the customs challenge.
The paper points to the recent Brexit: UK-Irish relations inquiry and cites Swiss and Norwegian customs authorities informing the EU Select Committee that many technological developments which could reduce, though not fully eliminate, the need for physical checks at their borders with the EU remain a long-term aspiration.
HMRC officials say that they are seeking to build a case for emulating the Singaporean model of single-window technology – with electronic documents replacing the ‘wet stamp’ – that facilitates the release and management of controlled goods.
“However, it is a significant technology programme – hundreds of millions of pounds – and will take five years to implement, to be up front about it,” says Jon Thompson, HMRC chief executive.
Sensors, scanners and big data are likely to become increasingly important to modern customs, but in the short term, they are not a viable solution to the Brexit border question, according to the Implementing Brexit: Customs report from the IFG.
“Ministers must recognise that ‘innovative, new ICT’ is not a viable option in the short-term.”
Image: Steve Mullins