In UK Innovation Strategy I discussed ways in which the British government proposed to stimulate innovation so that the UK could join China, the USA, Japan and South Korea as a science and technology superpower by 2039, Buried away in the text on free ports on page 78 was this reference to the UK border:
“The innovation activity in Freeports will build on the government’s 2025 UK Border Strategy, published in December 2020, which set out a Technology and Innovation roadmap to drive forward innovation at the UK border.”
The 2025 UK Border Strategy mentioned in that sentence provided for private sector participation “to design, deliver and innovate around the border.”
That strategy aims to achieve 6 “transformations:”
- “Develop a coordinated user-centric government approach to border design and delivery, which works in partnership with industry and enables border innovation.
- Bring together government’s collection, assurance and use of border data to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of data at the border.
- Establish resilient ‘ports of the future’ at border crossing points to make the experience smoother and more secure for passengers and traders, while better protecting the public and environment.
- Use upstream compliance to move processes away from the actual frontier where appropriate, both for passengers and traders.
- Build the capability of staff and the border industry responsible for delivering border processes, particularly in an environment of greater automation; and simplify communication with border users to improve their experience.
- Shape the future development of borders worldwide, to promote the UK’s interests and facilitate end-to-end trade and travel.”
The 4th of those “transformations” is reminiscent of arguments of the Democratic Unionist and the European Research Group politicians against regulatory alignment or the Northern Ireland protocol during the EU withdrawal agreement negotiations on the ground that it ought to be possible to avoid checks and inspections at the geographical frontier between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic by carrying them out elsewhere with the appropriate technology.
“Technology and innovation to unlock new possibilities for smoother and safer border processes is a key element of the new strategy.”
Further information about how the government hopes to achieve that objective is set out in the Roadmap.
The Roadmap is taken from the 2025 UK Border Strategy and includes the following:
- “Create a visible first point of contact in UK Government for border innovation suppliers and users”
- “Define target use cases with industry.
- “Set and collate security and interoperability standards,” and
- “Work across government to design the border and support border innovation and its uptake.”
The “first point of contact” mentioned above is the “Border Innovation Hub”.