Britain and the European Union agreed a way forward on data-sharing on Monday (9 January), in a step towards resolving issues stemming from post-Brexit rules governing trade with Northern Ireland, the two sides said in a joint statement.
The agreement was critical to further talks on the trading regulations known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, British foreign minister James Cleverly and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said after meeting in London.
“They agreed that while a range of critical issues need to be resolved to find a way forward, an agreement was reached today on the way forward regarding the specific question of the EU’s access to UK IT systems,” said the joint statement.
“They noted this work was a critical prerequisite to building trust and providing assurance, and provided a new basis for EU-UK discussions.”
In order to preserve a 1998 peace deal between British territory Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland and avoid a hard border between the two, Britain agreed as part of its departure from the EU to effectively leave Northern Ireland within the bloc’s single market for goods.
That has necessitated checks since January 2021 on some goods coming from the rest of the United Kingdom. Britain has subsequently sought to rewrite the deal to reduce those barriers and promote the free flow of goods.
The EU has long sought live or semi-live data on goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland in order to work out whether to carry out checks on arrival.
Britain has built a new system to provide the EU with real-time customs data relating to Northern Ireland, safety and security declarations and some transit information, to try to ease EU concerns that goods could enter Ireland without paying EU customs.
*first published in: Euractiv.com