Separating ourselves from the EU customs union is shooting ourselves in the foot

Published on August 17, 2017

Responding to the publication by the government of its position paper on new UK-EU customs proposals Future customs arrangements: a future partnership paper, Michael Young, interim CEO of the European Movement UK, said:

“The European Movement UK wants what is in the UK’s best interests and we believe that this is a future in the European Union, the customs union and the single market.

“When it comes to customs, we can’t have a ‘deeper and more special partnership’ with our EU neighbours than customs union. This is what we want to retain.

“Exiting the customs union means disrupting the massive trading advantage it offers us.  We highly prize, and object to losing, the easy transfer of merchandise between the UK and other EU countries, without customs duty, which being part of the customs union already enables.   As the government’s paper stated, the EU is our largest trading partner, with total UK imports from and exports to the EU exceeding £500bn last year.

“Separating ourselves from the EU customs union (while, ironically, trying to maintain the ‘freest and most frictionless’ possible UK-EU trade in goods), is shooting ourselves in the foot.

“Government wants to develop ‘ambitious’ new trade relationships with other countries around the world, but many of these countries do not share the same standards in their production processes and end products as we can expect from our EU neighbours.  Chlorinated chicken is just one example, but protections to avoid worker exploitation and ensure decent workplace conditions, which the EU helps safeguards, are also notably lacking in some countries.

“We do not believe it is in the UK’s best interests to threaten our existing trade relations with the rest of the EU, in pursuit of illusory trade deals with others in the rest of world.”

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