International Relations

Windsor Framework: The UK-EU Agreement

The ‘Windsor Framework’ will replace the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has proven to be one of the most difficult Brexit fallouts, causing both economic and political problems.

What precisely is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

  • Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Northern Ireland remained the only constituent with a land border with an EU member, the Republic of Ireland.
  • Because the EU and the United Kingdom have different product standards, border checks would be required before goods could be transported from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
  • However, the two Irelands have a long history of conflict, with the Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, securing a hard-fought peace only in 1998.
  • As tampering with this border was deemed too dangerous, it was decided that the checks would be carried out between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • This was referred to as the Northern Ireland Protocol.

What made it so contentious?

  • Northern Ireland remained in the EU single market under the protocol, and trade and customs inspections of goods arriving from the United Kingdom were conducted at its ports along the Irish Sea.
  • The checks made trade between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland difficult, with food products, in particular, losing shelf life while they awaited clearance.
  • Some of the UK government’s taxation and spending policies could not be implemented in Northern Ireland due to EU regulations.
  • The sale of medicines was also caught between British and EU regulations.

What does the Windsor Framework proposes?

The Windsor Framework Agreement proposes two critical elements. The first is the implementation of a green and red lane system for goods.

  • The green lane system will only apply to goods that will remain in Northern Ireland.
  • The red lane system will be used for goods destined for the EU.

The ‘Stormont Brake’ is the second feature.

  • It gives Northern Ireland’s lawmakers and London the ability to veto any EU regulation.
  • The veto is applicable if they believe the regulation will have a negative impact on the region.
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