PM Rishi Sunak and EU boss Ursula von der Leyen agree to enforce a new Brexit pact
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A new way forward for a prosperous, stable future for Northern Ireland was set out on Monday 27 February, rewriting the Treaty to fix the practical problems for the people and businesses of Northern Ireland. It is said to protect Northern Ireland’s place within the Union, and restores the balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions, the UK government has informed.
The Windsor Framework, agreed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, replaces the old Northern Ireland Protocol, dealing with the issues it has created and providing a new legal and UK constitutional framework.
It delivers free-flowing trade in goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by removing any sense of the border in the Irish Sea for goods staying within the UK. These goods will travel as normal through a new green lane without red tape or unnecessary checks, with the only checks remaining designed to prevent smuggling or crime.
It protects Northern Ireland’s place in the Union, replacing swathes of EU laws with UK laws and ensuring the people of Northern Ireland can benefit from the same tax policies, food and drink, medicines, and parcels as the rest of the UK.
It also puts the people of Northern Ireland in charge with active democratic consent. The Agreement rewrites the Treaty text with a new Stormont Brake that means the UK can veto new EU goods laws if they are not supported by both communities in Northern Ireland, which goes far beyond previous agreements or discussions on the old Protocol.
At the press conference held after the agreement was signed, Sunak said, “Today’s agreement is written in the language of laws and treaties. But really, it’s about much more than that.
“It’s about stability in Northern Ireland. It’s about real people and real businesses. It’s about showing that our Union, that has lasted for centuries, can and will endure.
“And it’s about breaking down the barriers between us. Setting aside the arguments that have for too long, divided us. And remembering the fellow feeling that defines us: This family of nations – this United Kingdom.”
Providing reassurance for the future, the UK and EU have agreed to work together to anticipate and deal with any other issues that may emerge and have made a joint declaration to resolve issues through dialogue, rather than formal dispute proceedings.
Alongside ‘The Windsor Framework: a new way forward’, the Government has published the full range of legal texts that underpin the Windsor Framework. These solutions put arrangements in Northern Ireland on an entirely new footing, with far-reaching changes to the old Protocol to provide lasting certainty and stability for citizens and businesses in Northern Ireland.
To give businesses and individuals time to prepare, the implementation of the agreement will be phased in, with some of the new arrangements for goods, agrifood, pets and plant movements introduced later this year and the remainder in 2024. In the meantime, the current temporary standstill arrangements will continue to apply.
The UK Government will no longer proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, as the UK and EU have come to a negotiated agreement. Similarly, the agreement will mean the EU withdrawing all of the legal actions it has launched against the UK.