New unit set up to UK monitor border disruption as it breaks away from EU rules
By David Hughes, PA Political Editor
A round-the-clock unit will watch out for problems at the UK’s border as new trading arrangements with the European Union take effect.
The Border Operations Centre will use experts and cutting-edge software to help cope with the disruption expected once the UK leaves the single market and customs union on January 1.
The launch of the multimillion-pound centre came as ministers stepped up calls for businesses to prepare for changes which will take place with or without a UK-EU trade deal.
The UK hopes to have the “world’s most effective border” by 2025, but concerns have been raised about the current system’s ability to cope with Brexit.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said: “At the end of the year we will take back control of our borders and that’s why we have set up the new Border Operations Centre to monitor and analyse flows of goods and people into the UK in real time.
“This will help us tackle challenges quickly and decisively, and give us increased information which will make us safer and more secure.”
The move comes as trade talks continue in London between the EU’s Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart, Lord Frost, with both sides acknowledging time is running short if they are to get an agreement.
At the heart of the new operation will be the Border Flow Service software that gathers information about the flow of goods and passengers.
Officials acknowledged that changes to the way the UK trades with the EU are likely to mean “short-term” disruption at the border.
They hope that better access to information and intelligence will help minimise this disruption.
As changes are phased in, from July, UK imports from the EU will require safety and security declarations for the first time – something officials hope will help tackle organised crime.
Meanwhile, the Government has also sent letters to businesses to ensure they know what they need to do to prepare for the end of the transition period.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Our fresh start outside of the EU single market and customs union is just on the horizon.
“As we enter the home stretch, businesses must make sure they are fully prepared for the new rules and opportunities that being an independent trading nation will bring.
“Amongst all our proactive work with business, I have written to nearly five million firms across the UK outlining the top actions they need to take, and reminding them that the Government is here to support them as the transition period ends”.