On 26th June 2019, the UK Government announced the first meeting (to be held that day) of the Business and Trade Union Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group ("the Group").
The Group has 18 members, meeting under the overall aegis of the Brexit Secretary, and includes cross-sector representatives from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Its focus is to ensure that the views of businesses and their employees are reflected in the work being undertaken to find suitable alternative arrangements to the Ireland/ Northern Ireland "backstop" issue.
The newly formed Group is to consider processes (including those arising from supply chain issues) associated with the movement of goods across borders and practical solutions with a view to making these processes more efficient , including trusted trader schemes and the advanced use of data and IT systems.
The Group is one of the three groups being set up by the UK Government to help inform the work being done to find the so far illusory Alternative Arrangements to the backstop. The other two groups are the Technical Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group (which had its first meeting on 20th June 2019) and the Parliamentary engagement group (which is yet to meet).
Also on 20th June 2019, the House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee published a UK Government "scoping document " or "mapping exercise" document dating from September 2017 on north-south co-operation on the island of Ireland.
This document was supplied to the Committee following a Freedom of Information request to the UK Government and outlines 142 areas of north- south co-operation across the island of Ireland and was used to inform the work that went into the Ireland/ Northern Ireland Protocol to the now rejected draft Withdrawal Agreement.
On 21st June 2019, the European Commission itself published a report, summarising the main findings of the mapping exercise, for the benefit of the remaining 27 EU Member States and the European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group.
These are all building blocks in the process towards finding an acceptable alternative solution to the "backstop" issue. This issue will no doubt be at the top of the new UK Prime Minister 's agenda, when appointed to take office.