In response to the news (which was already known to many) that the EU was to charge UK visitors €7 to enter the Schengen zone Conor Burns (MP Bournemouth West) tweeted on the 3rd August
‘We must absolutely not impose the same on EU visitors to the UK‘.
Mr Burns seems to be unaware that the UK Government proposed legislation in May to introduce a new Electronic Travel Authorisation system to mirror that already in force in the USA and also planned by the EU. Although the Home Secretary declined to clarify how much visitors would be charged, it seems unlikely that it will be cost free.
Apart from this oversight from Mr Burns it is also strange that he is concerned about the extra bureaucracy and cost for EU citizens visiting the UK, but has been silent about the additional bureaucracy and cost imposed on UK business wishing to trade with the EU. For instance, HMRC estimates that there will be an additional administrative burden of £7.5 billion per year to business for completing customs declarations for all EU trade in goods movements.
Additionally, products for the GB market will have to conform to a new product standard, UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed), to deliver compliant products in GB. Firms wishing to sell products within the EU will still need to use the CE mark. This duplication of effort and monitoring of potentially differing regulatory systems will inevitably impact the efficiency and cost base of businesses.
Also those businesses using, making, selling or importing chemicals in the UK will need to ensure compliance with UK REACH chemical regulations, as well as EU REACH, if they export to the EU. Obviously this will be another administrative and financial burden to business.
Mr Burns declares himself to be a patriot and an advocate of free trade. Whilst I don’t doubt that this is sincere, it seems peculiar that he should object to bureaucracy and costs for EU citizens but not have, so far, made any comment on the ramifications to UK business, and potentially jobs, that will be impacted by barriers to trade and imposed entirely by the UK Government. It seems perverse that Conservative MPs who constantly bemoan the imposition of red tape have acquiesced to this situation.