Windsor Framework


    In News

    • Recently, the UK government reached a landmark deal with the European Union (EU) on post-Brexit trade rules that will govern Northern Ireland.

    About ‘Windsor Framework’

    • The ‘Windsor Framework’ will replace the Northern Ireland Protocol, which had proved to be among the thorniest of Brexit fall-outs, creating problems both economic and political.

    Crucial aspects

    • the introduction of a Green lane and Red lane system for goods 
      • Green lane: British goods meant for Northern Ireland will use the green lane at the ports and will be allowed to pass with minimal paperwork and checks. 
        • Physical checks will be conducted if the goods are deemed suspicious, in place of the routine checks now.
        • Also, people in Northern Ireland can order goods online from Britain easily now. 
      • Red lane: Goods destined for Ireland or the rest of the EU will have to take the red lane, with the attendant customs and other checks.
    • the ‘Stormont Brake’: It allows Northern Ireland lawmakers and London to veto any EU regulation they believe affects the region adversely.
      • It means the democratically elected Northern Ireland Assembly can oppose new EU goods rules that would have significant and lasting effects on everyday lives in Northern Ireland.
      •  For this, they will need the support of 30 members from at least two parties. 
        • The British government can then veto the law.

    Objectives and Need

    • The checks made trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland cumbersome, with food products, especially, losing out on shelf life while they waited for clearance.
    •  Some taxation and spending policies of the UK government could not be implemented in Northern Ireland because of EU rules. 
    • The sale of medicines, too, was caught between different British and EU rules.
    • With the Windsor Framework, PM Sunak hopes to improve trade and other ties with the EU, while keeping the hard Brexiter faction of his Conservative Party happy. 

    Response of stakeholders 

    • Reactions to the new deal in political circles has been cautious, but not negative.
    • Most leaders have said the agreement on the face of it looks promising, though they would properly comment only after studying it in detail.
    • Industry associations have openly welcomed the deal. 
    • The US has also welcomed the deal. 

    The Northern Ireland Protocol 

    • Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. that shares a land border with the EU, as the Republic of Ireland (or Ireland) is an EU member-state. 
    • Since the EU and the UK have different product standards, border checks would be necessary before goods could move from Northern Ireland to Ireland
      • However, the two Irelands have had a long history of conflict, with a hard-fought peace secured only in 1998 under the Belfast Agreement, also called the Good Friday agreement.
    •  It was decided the checks would be conducted between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland (which together with Great Britain forms the United Kingdom). 
      • This was called the Northern Ireland Protocol.
        • Under the protocol, Northern Ireland remained in the EU single market, and trade-and-customs inspections of goods coming from Great Britain took place at its ports along the Irish Sea.