What Does the Northern Ireland Protocol Mean for Trade?

17 April 2023|Related :

The UK and European Union (EU) reached an agreement last week and announced a new deal called the ‘Windsor Framework’.

This builds on the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol, which set out trade rules between Northern Ireland (which is a member of Great Britain) and the Republic of Ireland (which is a member of the EU). 

Due to the significant disagreements between the UK and EU, the Protocol has been revised under the Windsor Framework, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed as a “decisive breakthrough”.

In this guide, we’ll be explaining exactly what the Windsor Framework involves and what it means for trade.

Why does Northern Ireland Need a Separate Brexit Deal?

Prior to Brexit, trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was simple as both were in the EU and therefore shared the same trade rules.

However, when NI left the EU, a deal was needed to prevent checks which would significantly slow down trade. This is because the EU has strict rules and carries out border checks and large amounts of paperwork on foods such as milk and eggs when they arrive from non-EU countries like the UK.

Due to the troubled political history of Northern Ireland, the land border is a sensitive issue. Many feared that introducing cameras or border posts as part of the checks could lead to instability.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

As part of the Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK, it was agreed that under a Northern Ireland Protocol, there would be no new checks on goods crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The aim of this was to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Instead of checking goods at the Irish border, checks on Great British good would be conducted at NI’s ports.

The agreement also stated that Northern Ireland must keep following EU rules on product standards.

What is the Windsor Framework?

The Windsor Framework was created to minimise the checks required at Northern Irish ports when receiving goods from Great Britain.

To do this, two lanes have been created to filter goods:

  • Green Lane: for goods which will remain in Northern Ireland
  • Red Lane: for goods which may be sent to the EU (including the Republic or Ireland)

Products going through the green lane will see checks and paperwork scrapped, keeping extra costs and delays to a minimum.

However, products going through the red lane will still be subject to the regular checks,

What’s more, bans on certain products, such as chilled sausages, from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain will be removed. Northern Ireland will also no longer have to follow some EU rules, such as on VAT and alcohol duties.

Expert Advice at Ryans

If your business has been affected by the Northern Ireland Protocol, reach out to our team at Ryans today to discuss how you can lessen the impact. For more of the latest economic updates, check out our other handy articles on our blog.

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