Reality Check: How are other EU borders managed?">
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WATCH: How tech helps Norway police its border
First of all let's head north - to the border between Norway and Sweden.Sweden is in the EU, Norway isn't. Norway is part of the single market through its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) but it's not in the customs union. Being in the single market means Norway respects the EU's four freedoms - the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people. But that doesn't get rid of the need for customs checks. Even so, Norway's border with Sweden is one of the simplest and most technologically advanced customs borders in the world, and lorries only ever have to stop once. They do not have to repeat the same process on both sides of the border
Waiting to be processed by the Norwegian customs agents
At the main border crossing at Svinesund, Norwegian customs say they deal with about 1,300 heavy goods vehicles every day - which is less than a tenth of the number that passes through Dover.
And the average time from when a lorry arrives to when it leaves the border
Lorries can be forced to wait more than 24 hours at busy times at the Turkey-Bulgaria border
Next - we go south - to the border between Turkey and Bulgaria.Again Bulgaria is in the EU, and Turkey isn't. But Turkey does have a customs union with the EU for most manufactured goods. Here though the delays are much longer. Outside the single market, there's a need for all sorts of documentation, from export licences and invoices to transport permits.That means huge queues of lorries are normal, which are made worse because there are only three road crossings open along the entire border. A report prepared for the European Commission in 2014 suggested a waiting time of about three hours for lorries travelling from Turkey to Bulgaria.
But drivers hoping to cross the border say they often have to wait for more than 24 hours at busy times.So being in a customs union doesn't automatically make border checks entering or leaving EU territory disappear; in this case that's partly because Turkey is not part of the single market and its common set of rules and regulations.
There are also external EU borders in the heart of Europe, such as the one between Switzerland and France.France, of course, is a founder EU member, while Switzerland is not in the EU but is part of the single market thanks to a series of bilateral agreements. Again, though, Switzerland is not in the customs union.
The Swiss border is often held up as an example of what could be achieved in Ireland, but here too there is physical infrastructure at all the main crossings - it is a hard border.
Conservative MEP and Brexiteer Daniel Hannan has been extolling the virtues of other EU borders, like France and Switzerland
According to information from the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the average waiting time for lorries carrying goods ranges from 20 minutes to more than two hours if full inspections have to be carried out.
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In other words, technology is improving things, and streamlining customs procedures at borders - and it will do more of that in the years to come. One of the two customs proposals being examined by the UK government argues that new technology and trusted trader schemes can keep border checks and infrastructure to a bare minimum. But note the name of the proposal - maximum facilitation: it facilitates trade, it does not get rid of borders altogether. That means that if the UK leaves all the EU's economic structures there is currently no example anywhere around Europe, or further afield, that can keep the Irish border after Brexit as open as it is now. With less than a year to go until the UK is due to leave the EU, that is the acute political dilemma at the heart of the current debate.
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