Windsor Framework to replace the NI Protocol

A new agreement has been approved between the UK and the EU over the future of customs checks for goods travelling between the UK and the Ireland of Ireland.

The agreement, known as the Windsor Framework, was announced by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, and the President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, will see the establishment of a new customs protocol for goods travelling to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Companies who have been approved in a new Trusted Traders Agreement will be now need to use either a green or red lane. The green lane is for goods destined for Northern Ireland. The red lane being for goods destined Southern Ireland, which is still a member of the EU and subject to EU regulations and standards.

The agreement replaces the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was established after Brexit when the UK left the European Union. The Protocol meant all goods travelling to the Island of Ireland were subject to customs checks, meaning the Northern Ireland was forced to follow different rules than the rest of the UK countries and was unpopular with the main unionist party in Northern Ireland, the DUP.

Following Northern Ireland elections in the autumn of 2022, which the DUP lost, the DUP refused to cooperate in establishing a new power sharing government in Northern Ireland. This has forced the UK government to renegotiate a new agreement.

The agreement announced on the 27th February 2023, still needs to be approved by the DUP, who have indicated a decision won’t be made until April 2023. The DUP are known to still have reservations as the agreement still requires Northern Ireland to follow a minimum amount of laws implemented by the European Union.

The agreement will still need to be passed into law in the UK and the EU, although this is widely expected to happen as the opposition party in the UK, Labour, have announced they will back the agreement.

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