Cam­eras for bor­der ‘can avoid boots on ground’

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - Colm Kelpie COLM KELPIE

A POST-BREXIT hard Bor­der will have to be po­liced ei­ther with cam­eras or “boots on the ground”, a top Swiss of­fi­cial has sug­gested.

There is no other way, said Lieu­tenant Colonel Re­bekka Straessle, the Swiss Bor­der Guard’s chief of staff.

The Swiss/EU bor­der op­er­ates with cam­eras on cross­ing points backed up by an in­tel­li­gence process, Lt Col Straessle told West­min­ster’s North­ern Ire­land Af­fairs Com­mit­tee.

Lt Col Straessle said there are cam­eras on most of the bor­der cross­ings, film­ing num­ber plates. “You have ei­ther have peo­ple on the ground, boots on the ground, or you have tech­ni­cal means,” she said, re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about whether it was pos­si­ble to have a bor­der with­out phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has stressed that it does not want any phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture on the Bor­der, and wants to main­tain it “broadly as it is now”.

UK chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond warned MPs last month that cam­eras and other in­fra­struc­ture would be deemed a “le­git­i­mate tar­get”.

He said any phys­i­cal as­pects put in place would be seen as an af­front to “those who do not recog­nise” the bor­der on this is­land.

But Lt Col Straessle told Bri­tish MPs yes­ter­day that polic­ing a hard bor­der in­volves ei­ther cam­eras or manned checks: “I don’t see a third way. For us, it is prefer­able to have tech­ni­cal means and to have an in­tel­li­gence process in the back­ground.” The head of Switzer­land’s cus­toms ser­vice, Dr Chris­tian Bock, told the com­mit­tee that mo­bile pa­trols also take place across the bor­der re­gion.

“When you say that you don’t want, from his­tor­i­cal po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, any­thing at the bor­der, then you have to com­pen­sate,” said Dr Bock.

“Then you have to com­pen­sate, in my view, with mo­bile pa­trols. At the end of the day you need peo­ple per­form­ing checks.”

Dr Bock said he did be­lieve a sys­tem could be de­signed for the Bor­der here that didn’t en­tail phys­i­cal check­points.

But he said that would re­quire “com­mon pa­trols” be­tween the UK and the Repub­lic to find “ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties”, as well as an in­tel­li­gence process to back this up.

“You need con­trol points, not at the bor­der, but some­where in the coun­try,” Dr Bock said.

“You need con­trols not at the bor­der, but at the en­ter­prises. You need a sys­tem of some sort of pre-qual­i­fi­ca­tion, like the Au­tho­rised Eco­nomic Op­er­a­tor, and then you need a sys­tem for low-risk trade, or when you have trade of the same kind of stuff.”

He said that for ev­ery­day goods, such as milk, “you don’t need a sys­tem where you stop ev­ery time at the bor­der”.

Dr Bock also said Ger­man he­li­copters fly across the Swiss/ Ger­man bor­der, with staff from Switzer­land on board.

He said checks take place 100pc of the time through riskbased data checks. Phys­i­cal checks take place be­tween 1pc and 2pc of the time, he said. BUSI­NESSES must be pre­pared for the ex­tra costs that Brexit will bring, for­mer World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion chief Pas­cal Lamy has said.

Mr Lamy said he agrees with the push for busi­nesses to pre­pare for the worst.

“If you’re a busi­ness in the car in­dus­try, the air­line in­dus­try, the food in­dus­try, you can do a sim­u­la­tion as to what would it mean if the UK ex­its in May 2019 on WTO terms,” Mr Lamy told the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent, on the mar­gins of a Brexit event or­gan­ised by AIB.

“But for sure … it will have a cost so we have to pre­pare for this cost. Your bot­tom line will be af­fected any­how, and then you need to take your op­tions on where you want to in­vest in five or ten or 15 years to come.”

En­ter­prise Ire­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie Sin­na­mon has said firms have been in de­nial, and warned that they must start plan­ning for a hard Brexit.

Mr Lamy also told this news­pa­per that there there will be some form of bor­der post-Brexit.

“There will be a fric­tion. You can­not have your cake and eat it,” he said. “We have re­moved borders to re­duce costs. That’s why we did it. There will be a cost. And then the ques­tion is for whom? The con­sumer will have to pay the cost,” he added.

Mr Lamy said Bri­tain will be on a “slow, pain­ful, bumpy road to recog­nis­ing re­al­ity, which is that Brexit is not a good thing”, adding: “I never thought it was a good thing. I think it was a mis­take.”

“It’s not a ques­tion of ne­go­ti­at­ing the best deal. It’s a ques­tion of ne­go­ti­at­ing the least dam­ag­ing deal. And once you look at it this way, I think it be­comes eas­ier.”

In his ad­dress to the AIB event at the Royal Hos­pi­tal in Kil­main­ham last week, Mr Lamy said it was im­pos­si­ble to have a ‘no bor­der’ so­lu­tion, claim­ing it was a “fairy-tale”.

“Borders are nec­es­sary to check and to po­lice. I per­son­ally be­lieve that there is no ‘no bor­der’ so­lu­tion,” Mr Lamy said.

A Swiss bor­der cross­ing with Ger­many near Basel. The coun­try al­lows Ger­man he­li­copters to fly over its bor­der, a West­min­is­ter com­mit­tee was told yes­ter­day

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