Flying out from Brussels for the Middle East over night.

I will be in Riyadh and Dubai a few days for meetings. Our activities in the region are increasing day-by-day and we now have a large number of clients.

Since we established our permanent KGH office in Dubai, serving the entire GCC, we now have four FTEs permanent staff on the ground and most weeks there are ten or more people working with us.

Yesterday I presented my academic research study, ‘SmartBorder 2.0 – Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland for Csuustoms control and free movement of people’ to the European Parliament in Brussels.

In the Parliment

It was the EP Constitutional Committe that had commissioned a report from me and similar reports from two other researchers, Dr. John Temple Lang and the team Dr. David Phinnemore/Dr. Katy Hayward.

My report, you can read it if you click on the link below

Dr. Temple Langs report is covering ‘Brexit and Ireland – Legal, Political and Wconomic Consideration’ and Dr. Phinnemore/De. Haywards report is concentrating on ‘UK Withdrawel and the Good Friday Agreement’.

So while my fellow research colleagues did more political, policy, legal and macro-economic research, I did my study on how to actually design and construct a functional future technical Customs border management model, an ‘invisable border’.

I took a more practical approach since there have been little or no discussion so far about the technical solutions in the debate.

The idea of the SmartBorder 2.0 solution is to use international standards, operational best practices (upgraded to better practices) and stats-of-the-art technology – moving the border formalities to pre/post activities based on a new modern trusted trader/trusted traveller programme, exchange of risk data, processing in a one-stop-shop Single wlndow (utilizing UCR) and technical identification/monitoring/surveillance in combination with pre-conditioned border crossings, with no duplications and joint mobile control teams. We are not talking of massive infrastructure implementations, like houses and border crossings – but some high-tech equipment making it possible to install almost frictionless borders.

I have designed this SmartBorder 2.0 concept and we in KGH have developed operational modules that together can be used as a SmartBorder 2.0 model. This is real, not science-fiction for the future.

In fact, most of the modules we have developed in this context have also been tested or implemented in operational environments in different parts of the world. There is a need for further development, adjustment and integration – naturally – but it works.

At the European Parliament hearing

In my study I used the borders of Sweden-Norway, United States-Canada and Australia-New Zealand as examples for the model.

I was very clear at the hearing, and I want to underline it here as well – that neither of these solutions is a perfect exeample on what needs to be implemented on the Ireland-Northern Ireland border (or other borders between EU and UK). These borders are developed for other environments.

However, all these examples have Customs and border management elements and components that could be used for a SmartBorder 2.0 solution on the Ireland/NI border and other EU-UK borders. The components needs to be further developed and fully integrated to get an ‘invisable border’.

The Sweden-Norway is the most advanced border in the world from a conceptual perspective and it should in my opinion for several reasons (explained in the report) be used as basis for the new UK-EU border – but it is not perfect, and not fully utilizing all the potential of the model itself. The model and solution there can’t be directly transferred to another place. This is important to undeline. Some people misundestand that fact, deliberately or non-deliberately.

My point is that differences between the Sweden-Norway border model and new potential applications in other environments, like e.g. the Ireland-Northern Ireland example, can be mitigated by a number of development actions and new technical components, like a new trusted trader programme, a new trusted traveller scheme and different approach to security and safety.

I am talking about re-using the Customs cooperation model, the one-stop-shop, the Single Window experince, the advanced data exchange model and the operational agency model at both side of the border – just to give a few examples. There are also a number of -previously successful test pilots of even more advanced applications st the same border like e.g. The Gateway Concept and Green Corridor that easily could be adopted to work in this new context.

Naturally the Ireland-Northern Ireland border has its own challenges, history and environment, but I am convinced that it is possible to design, develop and implement a SmetBorder 2.0 solution on this border.

In addition, the Swedish-Norway border is a SmartBorder solution on an outer third country border of EU, that is already adopted, accepted, tested and operationally functional, thus very suitable to serve as example for EU-UK modelling. Especially since international institutions like the World Bank (and others) still considers it to be the fastest, safest and best border model in the world.

Some people argue that Norway has a different status in relation to EU than maybe UK will have. That is true and possible, but what is then ignored is that it has no impact on the border management model and concept since it needs to be there to handle any scenario, regardless of present or future trade policies.

It is always interesting to have a dialogue with engaged people

As I said in Brussels at the hearing, we need to acknowledge that when a country leave a Customs Union and its Customs territory, a border will be re-instated. The border is a common border and it needs to be managed, for a wide range of reasons (including tax/duty collection, security, safety, trade policy, national priorities, to regulate goods from outside both customs territories with different status etc, just to mention a few out of many). The key is to manage such a border with maximum security and minimal interference with the movement of goods and people in an interlinked and integrated economy and business environment.

The technical operational model should be negotiation neutral, meaning a solution must be able to handle any outcome of the negotitions. In addition the model needs to be scalable and to a large extent re-usable on other borders, since it is very difficult and extremely challenging to operate several different border solutions for a country (or in this case a country and another country/region/union).

Is it possible to do? Yes. Should we do it? Absolutely.

Interesting posting from MEP on social media

Some people argue that the cost would be high, but I can assure you that having a detailed look at a cost-benefit calculation for the design, development and implementation of a SmartBorder 2.0 solution – in relation to the costs and consequences of NOT having such a solution in place – will be one of the best business cases ever seen.

In fact it is possible to re-use already exisiting infrastructure, like mobile networks etc for some parts of this model keeping the costs reasonable and the tecjnology isn’t that expensive any more. The options are many.

It is also interesting to note that even though my report was the only technical one leaving the political elements out of this specific study – it was still the report that attracted most political attention in media.

This was not my intention. I wanted to show that it is possible to use the knowledge, experience and technical skills we have today to create a technical border solution that can handle the situation – regardless the politics. I am naturally aware of the specific circumstances on Ireland that need to be addressed, but I want to show that there are alternatives on ghe technical level to handle different scenarios.

Article in The Express

Read the article here: The Express: “Not rocket science” sayd expert.

Article on BBC News

Read the article here: BBC on Frictionless Borders

In summary it is important to note that it has been extremely to work on this project over the last months. I have had many contacts with other Brexit experts and various professionals to develop this model and to present it in this report as a practical alternative to political debate. The proposal is based on a lifetime in this field, especially Customs and Border reform and modernization on global, regional and local level – having visited 169 countries, worked in more than 120 of these countries and seen more than 700 borders. Yes, I do count. Together with new learning and knowledge from many others, colleagues and professionals, this is my first contribution to the Brexit challange. It will not be the last.

You can find my report here, published on the EU domain: EU Parliament Constitutional Committee Lars Karlsson SmartBorder 2.0 Report Brexit

Britain needs a new trade deal with the EU. At leadt according to this article from CNN.

If it fails to secure one as part of divorce talks with Brussels, a study published Tuesday predicts that higher prices will cost British households an extra £260 ($345) a year.

The study, produced by the U.K. Trade Policy Observatory and the Resolution Foundation, predicts that 3 million of the hardest-hit families will have to fork out over £500 ($664).

Failing to agree a new trade relationship before leaving the EU in March 2019 would force Britain to trade under rules set by the World Trade Organization.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said that “no deal is better than bad deal.” But many business groups and many economists disagree.

“The government must rightly continue to prioritize a comprehensive new trade agreement with the EU in order to avoid households having to fork out for a ‘no deal’ outcome,” said Stephen Clarke, an economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation.

The study found that tariffs on dairy products imported from the EU would rise by 45% if no deal is struck, while those on meat products would spike 37%. Clothing, footwear, beverages and tobacco would all see tariff increases of 10%.

The tariffs would translate to price hikes: dairy goods would cost 8% more in Britain, while meat prices would spike by 6%.

Even basic ingredients involve complex supply chains, making them pricier as tariffs accumulate.

Grocers have also warned of price hikes. David Tyler, the chairman of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, told The Sunday Times that he expects average tariffs of 22% on EU foods.

“The U.K. government must realize that walking away from the negotiating table is the worst possible outcome,” said Ilona Serwicka, a research fellow at the U.K. Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex.

Prices have already gone up in Britain because of the sharp drop in the value of the pound, which has declined 12% against the dollar since the vote in June 2016.

Data published Tuesday showed annual inflation in September was the highest it has been in more than five years.

“Inflation rising up to 3% in September very much keeps the squeeze on consumers, as it undoubtedly marked another month of negative real income growth,” said Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.

May hopes to negotiate a “transitional period” of roughly two years after leaving the EU, during which current terms of trade would be maintained. Businesses say a transition is needed to protect the British economy from the shock of a clean break.

The EU says that sufficient progress must be made on the divorce settlement before future terms of trade with Britain are discussed. Negotiations appear to be at a standstill, however.

Goods and services worth over £500 billion ($656 billion) a year are currently traded between Britain and the EU.

Source: CNN