New checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland (NI) from mainland Great Britain come into force on October 1 under the terms of the Windsor Framework.
NI Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) members have decried the step as weakening their country’s role in the UK.
From that date lorryloads of goods destined for the Republic of Ireland to the South or the wider European Union will use a designated red lane where they will face obligatory customs declarations. There may also be checks to ensure compliance with EU single-market rules in accordance with the Windsor Framework agreement.
Goods bound for consumers in Northern Ireland will pass through a green lane with minimal paperwork and few routine checks. Those companies using the green lane must be signed up to a new so-called trusted trader scheme.
The new framework rules will also mean NI retailers having to display “Not for EU” labelling on food products in stores.
Sammy Wilson, a veteran MP for the pro-UK DUP, told BBC radio: “On Sunday it will be confirmed that Northern Ireland has got a border in the Irish Sea.
“We are going, over the next year, to see physical border checkpoints built in a six-acre site in Larne [County Antrim, NI], £40 million will be spent on a border checkpoint to mark Northern Ireland as being part of the EU rather than being fully part of the United Kingdom.”
He added: “That has implications for the goods which come into Northern Ireland, the cost of those goods, the cost of transporting them, the variety of goods which will be available, so consumers will feel that impact.
“Over a period of time we will see the laws in Northern Ireland diverging from the rest of the United Kingdom and our position within the United Kingdom weakened.”
The new checks and controls regime is intended to ease post-Brexit trade between NI and the rest of the UK. It modifies the Northern Ireland Protocol, the 2019 deal which kept it inside the EU’s single market for goods and which proved a contentious point in the UK’s protracted EU withdrawal talks.
The aim is to stop goods entering the European single market by the back door, given the open border with EU Member State the Republic of Ireland. That remains a key plank of a 1998 peace deal ending violence over British rule in Northern Ireland.
The arrangement keeps the Irish land border open but has meant products arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are now subject to checks and controls.
The DUP confirmed its stance over a return to power sharing saying the Windsor Framework does not sufficiently address its concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol.
It said it will not accept a return to devolution until the British Government provides further assurances, by way of legislation, over NI’s place in the UK internal market.