The UK border. Issues and challenges for government’s management of the border in light of the UK’s planned departure from the European Union

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details October 2017
Publication Date June 2018
Content Type

The United Kingdom's National Audit Office published in October 2017 a briefing which provideed the UK Parliament with insights on the issues and challenges for the government’s management of the border in light of the UK’s planned departure from the European Union.

Border management was fundamentally important to effective trade, tourism, national security and well-managed migration. It required many parts of government to coordinate and make often complex decisions to permit people or goods to cross the border. This publication set out how government worked at the border and the challenges that it needed to tackle to manage the border effectively. It then looked ahead to the implications for border management that might arise from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Further information

There were four parts to the NAO report:

+ Part One described the UK’s border. The border was a complex concept and was more than the traditional line on a map. The border can be crossed at many locations, and under a wide array of circumstances.

+ Part Two set out the main organisations and activities involved in border management. The report described government’s overarching goals for border management and set out high level process flows.

+ Part Three brought together the NAO's view of the issues and challenges to consider in managing the border. To inform this part, the NAO reviewed previous reports written by the NAO dating back to 2001 and synthesised relevant findings.

+ Part Four looked ahead to the UK’s departure from the EU and set out some key implications for government. The NAO highlighted existing challenges to border management and described a number of existing border-related programmes. The report then looked ahead to the implications for border management that might arise from the UK’s departure from the European Union.


The National Audit Office in the United Kingdom scrutinises public spending for the UK Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Sir Amyas Morse KCB, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 785 people. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Its studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Its recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services. Its work led to audited savings of £734 million in 2016.

In July 2017 the Comptroller and Auditor General of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse had given an interview to selected journalists, in which he expressed concern that the United Kingdom government had failed to take a unified approach to talks with the EU. He suggested that the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU), the Treasury and the cabinet office had so far failed to take an 'energetic' lead, leaving other departments to set their own priorities.

Morse said he had suggested to relevant ministers and officials that he would like to see a cross-departmental plan on Brexit implementation. This had not yet been forthcoming.

He had expressed particular concern regarding the progress of the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) programme.

The programme was currently operating with some uncertainty due to the unknown outcome of the UK/EU negotiations, and no changes had yet been made to the scope of the CDS programme following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Any changes to the new system requirements made shortly before the planned implementation date would increase the risk of additional cost or delay to the programme. While HMRC was working to manage the risks and issues, and was developing contingency plans, wider government must choose now whether it needed to do more to help HMRC to mitigate the risk of the system being needed, but not ready in time.

The NAO published a progress update report in June 2018.

Source Link
Related Links
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union
UK: GOV.UK: NAO: Report, October 2017: The UK Border
UK: GOV.UK: NAO: Report, June 2018: The Customs Declaration Service: a progress update
BCC: Press Release, 28.06.18: BCC: Firms in the dark on customs declarations

Subject Categories ,
Countries / Regions