Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have agreed to a new post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, calling it the Windsor Framework.
It is designed to address issues affecting Northern Ireland since the UK left the EU and the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol came into force.
But that it does the new deal to imply?
This is an initial look at what Mr. Sunak has announced – we’ll bring you more when the full framework is released.
The agreement will introduce two new routes for goods when traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Goods traveling through NI to reach the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU, will go through a red lane, ensuring they pass all necessary customs checks before crossing the Irish Sea.
But the goods that will remain in NI, and therefore in the UK, will go through a green lane, which Sunak says would see the current “burdensome customs red tape” scrapped, meaning no more paperwork.
The prime minister also said it would benefit people sending parcels to friends and family within the UK or buying goods online, as there would be no customs formalities.
He promised that the food available on supermarket shelves in Britain would also be available in Northern Ireland.
Sunak said: “This means we have removed any sense of border in the Irish Sea.”
taxes and medicines
The next step is something that Sunak says protects Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.
The legal text of the protocol was changed to ensure that the UK government’s decision on VAT and excise will also be implemented in Northern Ireland.
Under the previous Brexit deal, those decisions were made in Brussels, as the region had to follow single market rules.
But now any changes to Westminster will take effect in Northern Ireland, with the Prime Minister using the example of the alcohol tax, “meaning our reforms to reduce the cost of a pint in the pub will now apply in Northern Ireland.” North”.
He said British products such as trees, plants and seed potatoes will also again be available in garden centers in Northern Ireland.
A “landmark” drug deal has been agreed, meaning drugs approved for use by the UK’s medicines regulator will automatically be available in all Northern Ireland pharmacies and hospitals.
The good news for pet owners is that they can now travel without documentation from a veterinarian.
Perhaps the most politically significant element of the framework is this proposal, which Sunak says “safeguards the sovereignty of the people of Northern Ireland”.
unionists, like the DUPthey are against any EU laws being enforced in Northern Ireland as members of the Assembly have no say in them.
But to prevent a hard border from returning to the island of Ireland, others say some of the bloc’s laws will have to be followed going forward.
Sunak told reporters that some rules would remain, adding: “The only EU law that applies in Northern Ireland under the framework is the bare minimum to avoid a hard border with Ireland and allow Northern Irish companies to North continue to access the EU market”.
However, what the Prime Minister has agreed with the EU is to give members of the Northern Ireland Assembly a voice in any changes to EU law by offering them ‘the Stormont brake’.
Sunak said that if NI politicians pull the brakes, “the UK government will have a veto” on any law changes by the bloc that affect them.
“This gives the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland a powerful new safeguard, based on community consent,” he added.
The detail of how this works could be decisive for the prime minister to win the support of the DUP and Brexiteer members of his own party.