On the 27th February 2023, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Ursula von der Leyen President of the European Union, announced an agreement on a new deal to break the impasse of the Northern Ireland post-Brexit trade agreement, which had proved problematic.
The Windsor Framework, is an agreement designed to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol, a deal struck by Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister responsible for eventually sealing the Brexit withdrawal agreement deal, which went ahead on 31st January 2020.
The Northern Ireland Protocol was unpopular with the DUP Party in Northern Ireland, as the Protocol established a border down the Irish Sea and forcing Northern Ireland to be follow different rules to the rest of the UK when it came to trading with Europe, which is the only part of the United Kingdom to have a land border with the EU, which has been kept open following the UK’s departure from the European Union to help preserve the peace agreement known as the Good Friday Agreement.
The new agreement struck between the UK and the EU will help to provide friction less trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK by providing new customs channels for vehicles laden with goods crossing the Irish Sea.
Vehicles with goods destined only for Northern Ireland will enter a green channel, and although exporting companies will be expected to part of a trusted traders scheme, they won’t be subject to customs checks when they arrive in Northern Ireland.
All other vehicles destined to travel onto the rest of Ireland and the EU, will enter the red channel a will be subject to the normal customs checks.
The are still a few hoops to go through before the agreement comes into law. The first is gaining the approval of the DUP who have prevented the formation of a Northern Ireland power sharing government at Stormont after elections in 2022. Without their approval they will continue to boycott Stormont. The DUP have announced they will not make a decision until April 2023.
The agreement also needs to be passed into law in both the UK and the EU, but it is believed that this will be a formality as the Labour Party in the UK have announced they will back the agreement wiping out any potential rebellion in the Conservative Party, who hold a comfortable majority in the UK Parliament.
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