Trade

German MPs demand compensation for UK customs cash-in

BERLIN — Leading German MPs are demanding that the U.K. compensate the EU for customs revenues that London will collect for goods entering the single market under Boris Johnsons Brexit deal, and say the German government is backing their request.

Under the revised Brexit deal backed by British MPs late Tuesday, Northern Ireland would formally remain in the U.K.s customs territory while also following EU customs rules. British customs authorities would check goods going into Northern Ireland from the U.K. mainland and could collect customs duties if those goods are at “risk” of subsequently entering the EU market.

Even though those duties are charged on goods entering the EU market, Brussels agreed the revenues would remain in the British budget: “Customs duties levied by the United Kingdom … are not remitted to the Union,” the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland says.

Berlin, however, believes this is not the final word on the issue, according to Gunther Krichbaum, a senior lawmaker from Angela Merkels Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and chair of the Bundestags committee for European affairs.

“Of course, we have to see that we can retroactively find an appropriate compensation,” he said in an interview, adding: “This view is also shared by the federal government.”

“We have to see that we can retroactively find an appropriate compensation” — senior CDU lawmaker Gunter Krichbaum

Michael Link, the liberal FDP partys EU spokesperson, said it would be “quite strange” if the U.K. was allowed to keep customs duties it levied on goods crossing the Irish Sea and entering the EU market.

The German government on Monday briefed selected lawmakers on the Brexit deal and said that it would push for a compensation, according to another person, who was present at the meeting.

A spokesperson for the German ministry of foreign affairs said Berlin “of course stands by the decision” of EU leaders to back the Brexit deal agreed with the U.K. prime minister, but did not comment on whether Germany would seek to obtain retroactive compensation.

However, a European Commission official said the arrangement is “a logical consequence of Northern Ireland remaining in the UKs customs territory,” and that Brussels has no plans to arrange compensation.

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