UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak and President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen have announced a new Northern Ireland (NI) Brexit deal. The Windsor Framework. Aiming to combat some of the post-Brexit problems currently facing Northern Ireland, the agreement was published yesterday. The deal comes with a range of concerns from many MPs, especially the DUP.
Rishi Sunak is in Belfast today to try and gain support for his deal. The deal focuses on an agreement with the EU over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.
The agreement has been designed to ease the flow of goods throughout Northern Ireland.
The DUP, Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, has agreed that the deal marks “significant progress”. However, when talking to BBC Radio 4, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the party “continue to have some concerns”. Following on from this he says “we are reasonable people but we want to ensure that what the Prime Minister has said is matched by what is actually in the agreement itself.”
What agreement was previously in place?
Before Brexit trade between Northern Ireland and the EU flowed nicely. Both were part of the EU and therefore had the same trade rules.
Once Northern Ireland left the EU, a deal was introduced to try and prevent the need for checks. The EU has strict rules on food and other goods passing borders.
Prime Minister at the time Boris Johnson came up with: The Northern Ireland Protocol.
On the 1st of January 2021, The Northern Ireland Protocol became part of international law. As a result of this, checks around the transportation of goods were changed and made stricter.
Rather than just at the border of the country, document checks and inspections were made at all Norther-Irish ports. This applied to goods coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
The DUP, and other unionist parties, said that these checks created an effective border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
At the time the Northern Ireland Protocol caused tension as it meant Northern Ireland followed some of the EU rules still whilst the rest of the UK didn’t.
Yesterday, when the new Northern Ireland agreement was published, the government confirmed the Northern Ireland Protocol would be scrapped.
What do we know about the new deal?
Terms of the new deal were published publically yesterday under the name ‘The Windsor Framework‘. Here are some of the key points.
- Goods will be split into a ‘green’ and a ‘red’ lane when entering Northern Ireland. ‘Green lane’ goods are those with a destination of Northern Ireland. They require minimal paperwork and little checks have to be carried out. ‘Red lane’ good are those with a destination of Ireland and the EU. ‘Red lane’ goods require full checks.
- There are no new requirements for moving pets from Northern Ireland to Britain.
- Medicines for use in Northern Ireland will be checked by a UK regulator.
- Parcels will not be subject to full custom declarations however, from 2024 parcel operators are required to share data with the EU to manage the issue of smuggling.
- UK VAT rules will apply to Northern Ireland when it comes to alcoholic drinks and immovable goods.
- Other items will remain under EU VAT rules.
- The proportion of EU rules in Northern Ireland is reduced to less than 3%.
- The ‘Stormont Brake’ has been introduced allowing the Northern Ireland Assembly to raise an objection. Both the EU and the UK must agree.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the new agreement marks a “decisive breakthrough”. Within the next few days, Sunak will continue to try and sway MPs, and importantly the DUP, to his new deal.