Great Britain and the European Union have finally reached a post-Brexit trade deal which has ended the discussions over the movement of goods. This deal was called the Windsor Framework which was announced by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission on 27th February 2023.
The agreement seeks to overcome sensitive issues like trade across the border of Northern Ireland, a lingering issue since the UK voted out of Brexit in 2016. The British and the EU have mutually agreed on the agreement but it is yet to be ratified by the British parliament. The deal is awaiting approval from members of the parliament and the EU member states.
A question was raised when the UK decided to leave the EU about the status of the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (member of the EU). Having a troubled historical past, the British government feared instability by any introduction of new laws or custom checks. Instead, the UK government introduced a policy known as the Northern Ireland Protocol which introduced custom checks at ports in Northern Ireland for goods transported to the Republic of Ireland via the British mainland.
However, the Windsor Framework will introduce separate processes for goods travelling from the UK mainland to Northern Ireland with its final destination to the Republic of Ireland. Goods being transported to Northern Ireland will pass through a ‘green lane’ which will have fewer physical checks and lesser paperwork. The green lane laws will also not have to comply with the EU regulations on VAT and alcohol duties.
On the contrary, the goods traveling to the Irish Republic will pass through a ‘red lane’ and will be subjected to checks to ensure they comply with the EU regulations. The concept of ‘red’ and ‘green’ lanes has been inspired by the international best practices on customs risk management to distinguish trusted traders and traders with an extensive history. The ‘green lane’ will free the movement of trade and transportation of clearly labelled fresh meat to Northern Ireland. The Windsor Framework will enable packages sent by families and friends to be delivered without any customs paperwork and will also allow the distribution of British medicines across Northern Ireland. Agricultural and garden products like tree saplings, seed potatoes, and other plants will also be allowed to enter Northern Ireland under the same biosecurity arrangements as the rest of the UK’s internal market.
The creation of efficient port and customs operations that increase free-flowing trade will promote and generate opportunities to attract new businesses and investment to Northern Ireland. The Windsor Framework will ensure the smooth delivery of the import process, meeting the requirements of the Brexit deal and an opportunity to smoothen the post-Brexit issues.