EU and UK Reach Agreement in Principle on Northern Ireland Deal
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have reached a political agreement in principle on the regulation of trade in Northern Ireland at a meeting in Windsor, UK today.
The agreement in principle constitutes a comprehensive set of joint solutions aimed at addressing the practical challenges faced by citizens and businesses in Northern Ireland.
The joint solutions cover, amongst other things, new arrangements on customs, agri-food, medicines, VAT and excise, as well as specific instruments designed to ensure that the voices of the people of Northern Ireland are better heard on specific issues particularly relevant to the communities there.
These new arrangements are underpinned by robust safeguards to ensure the integrity of the EU’s Single Market, to which Northern Ireland has a unique access.
Commenting on the agreement, Ursula von der Leyen said, ‘The Windsor Framework was made possible by genuine political will and hard work guided by the fundamental principle that the interests and needs of people should always come first. Supporting and protecting the hard-earned gains of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement was the prerequisite of our endeavour. Today, our achievement allows us to put forward definitive solutions that work for people and businesses in Northern Ireland and that protect our Single Market. It also allows us to turn the page towards a bilateral relationship that mirrors the one of close allies standing shoulder to shoulder in times of crisis.’
Prime Minister Sunak said, ‘I’m pleased to report that we have now made a decisive breakthrough. Together, we have changed the original Protocol and are today announcing the new Windsor Framework.’
Mr. Sunak said, ‘We have taken three big steps forward.’
These steps include;
- Delivery of the smooth flow of trade within the United Kingdom. Goods destined for Northern Ireland will travel through a new Green Lane, with a separate Red Lane for goods at risk of moving onto the EU. In the Green Lane, burdensome customs bureaucracy will be scrapped
- Protection of Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom with amendments to the legal text of the Protocol to ensure VAT and excise changes for the whole of the UK can be made.
- Safeguarding the sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland while avoiding a hard border with Ireland and allowing Northern Irish businesses to continue accessing the EU market.
A permanent solution has also been found to ensure that people in Northern Ireland have access to all medicines, including novel medicines, at the same time and under the same conditions as people in the rest of the UK.
The European Commission and the Government of the United Kingdom will proceed, within the remit of their respective powers, with the necessary steps to translate the joint solutions into legally binding instruments and to implement these swiftly. To that effect, a meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on the Withdrawal Agreement, co-chaired by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, will also take place in the coming weeks.