IBlimey. Plenty to chew at there, Bob
I don’t pretend to know much about VAT and excise duty on infra-EU exports, other than that it’s bloody complicated…to the point whereby I don’t know do what your suggesting barnier ought to offer.
Unless I’m hugely misunderstanding it, however, feels a little bit of a forest / trees issue
HMG has decided that Brexit requires us to leave the single market, the customs union and not enter into any of the several pre-existing cooperation arrangmentns which allow for an ECJ role.
The current ding dong over a customs union is a bit of a red herring, TBH. Any border management along the lines of what everyone - EU / Ireland / UK - say they want us always inherently political , therein requiring a regulatory regime - esp with regard to agriculture-related products, produce, rules of origin, VAT, and so on.
Customs Union or no Customs Union, the single market requires that all goods entering into it meet the necessary standards and requirements, so by (a) rejecting all the established mechanisms while (b) offering sweet FA as regards workable alternatives, Barnier can only follow his clear mandate, which is to protect the integrity of the single market, and those goods entering into it.
To take your Guinness argument, i’d have thought VAT is the least of their concerns as their supply chain for both Guinness and Bayleys criss-crosses the current border umpteen tines, and will be a complete mess post-Brexit. If that means the end of Baileys that would though be a small victory for deceny.
It might well be that you believe fudging VAT is a solution, but no Member States agree with that position…which has been clear for years now.
I don’t think Barnier is beyond criticism, BTW: I just don’t see how he can solve a conundrum entirely of our own making without smashing his remit from the Member States.