A new way forward for a prosperous, stable future for Northern Ireland was set out last week, rewriting the Treaty to fix the practical problems for the people and businesses of Northern Ireland, protecting Northern Ireland’s place within our Union, and restoring the balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions.
The Windsor Framework, agreed by the Prime Minister and European Commission President, 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 our 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 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.
The Prime Minister and Northern Ireland Secretary have achieved what few thought possible – legally binding change through permanent changes to the Protocol Treaty text. This has ended the presumption that Northern Ireland will align with the EU on various regulations, and we have also scrapped 1,700 pages of EU law.
The agreement concludes months of intensive discussions between the UK and EU to address real world issues and needs of the people of Northern Ireland.
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.
Today is about preserving the delicate balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and charting a new way forward for the people of Northern Ireland.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) February 27, 2023
This article was first published in The Forester newspaper.