The Windsor Framework
Businesses in Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB) do not like the current protocol arrangements because of issues related to customs, documentation, VAT etc. on the movement of goods. Businesses want a permanent agreement that can provide stability and certainty and that reduces paperwork and checks for goods only sold or consumed in NI.
The Windsor Framework improves the situation by:
- Businesses in GB and NI joining the Trusted Traders’ Scheme will get easements in the form of simplified records for customs purposes on goods moving from GB to NI where that is the destination of the goods (the green lane).
- Further trusted traders’ schemes for certain products; plant or animal products won’t need physical checks at NI ports; authorized operators’ scheme simplifies customs procedures when sending non plant or animal products by post or package.
- Goods that are, or are at risk of, moving on to the EU (the red lane) will follow full customs procedures in NI.
- EU rules in relation to NI goods to the EU Single Market will continue under these arrangements.
- Drawbacks are the fact that you need to join the multiple Trusted Traders’ Schemes. One must register with the relevant authority and fulfil all conditions.
- The power to make amendments to this Treaty text framework itself will expire at the end of 2024. However, operational changes could be made.
- The Framework amendments overlay new rules on the existing ones, (including on GB to NI goods movements), altering how they operate but not replacing or removing them. Hence, the European Court of Justice is still the ultimate arbiter on issues of EU rules. In terms of reduction of EU law on GB to NI goods movements, the ERG and DUP may not like it very much.
- This does arguably put NI businesses in a better trading position than GB firms since businesses in NI can sell goods into the EU with almost no red tape compared with GB businesses. Economic activity in NI has already showed to hold up better than other parts of the UK in part due to this special access.