BRITAIN'S Brexit negotiators have not ruled out giving the EU oversight of customs controls at UK borders in a bid to keep unfettered access to European markets post-Brexit.
Brexit secretary David Davis has published the first of a series of papers attempting to clarify the UK’s Brexit position, saying Britain would leave the customs union and single market but seek to stay as closely linked as possible to both.
The document suggested two possible models for the future UK-EU customs arrangement after 2019 - one with a customs border and one without.
The first model was a "highly streamlined customs arrangement" involving the re-introduction of a customs border but with electronic tracking of shipments, rather than physical border checks.
But the second option propsed "new customs partnership" which would see Britain effectively stay in the customs union in all but name.
British goods would be exported tariff-free and Britain would levy EU tariffs on goods coming into the UK for onward passage to the EU directly or as components in UK export goods.
But legal experts said there would be a need for a mechanism to oversee this new partnership to ensure Britain, as a non-EU member, was correctly monitoring goods coming into the UK and destined for Europe.
The EU’s system of movement of goods across EU borders without checks works on the basis that all members closely monitor shipments coming into the bloc from outside, to ensure the correct tariffs are paid and that goods meet EU standards.
The EU anti-fraud agency OLAF polices customs agencies across Europe to ensure they are correctly monitoring imports. OLAF has the powers to conduct on-the-spot inspections and seek information from customs bodies.