Call us on +44 (0)1784 466050

New agreement with EU may signal end of Irish Sea border

Trade bodies and shippers have welcomed changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol contained in the ‘Windsor Framework’, that has been agreed in principal and announced by the UK and EU on the 27th February 2023.

The (Windsor Framework) deal, which has to progress parliament, will reduce post-Brexit tension with the EU, ease the flow of goods across the Irish Sea and hopefully encourage the US administration to recommence FTA negotiations.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak said checks would be in place for British goods destined for the republic, but all goods travelling to Northern Ireland would go via a “green lane”, with the EU returning powers on VAT and alcohol duty applicable to these goods to the UK – moves Mr Sunak said ended the current “border in the Irish Sea”.

MPs will also get to see the full detail, with the European Court of Justice’s role expected to come under particular scrutiny, as will the agreements surrounding EU state aid and other regulations expected to remain in place.

Customs officials seem fairly confident it will get approval in Parliament, having gained the support of the Labour opposition and in a further boost, the Democratic Unionist Party is setting up an eight-person panel to assess the views of unionists on the Windsor agreement and a potential return to power sharing. DUP figures said the composition of the panel indicated that the party’s leadership was inclined to endorse the changes to the protocol.

Under the terms of the NI Protocol, shippers of foodstuffs and particularly fresh food, have been spending a fortune on health certificates and vet fees, for consignments into NI. With the new Windsor Framework, goods moving from GB into Northern Ireland would use a ‘green lane’, meaning they should face minimal paperwork and no routine physical checks.

Details have yet to be revealed, but goods which are due to travel into the Republic of Ireland would use a ‘red lane’, meaning they face customs processes and other checks.
To use the green lane businesses will need to register as a trusted trader under the new United Kingdom Internal Market Scheme (UKIMS).

Subject to the Windsor Framework advancing into law, the UK government will consult and work with business over the coming months, ahead of implementing any changes required.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the NI Protocol, The Windsor Framework or shipping into NI, please EMAIL Michelle Redman.