UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Monday reached a deal to resolve their disagreements surrounding the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. The deal, called the Windsor Framework, will replace the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol, which regulated trade between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK.The Windsor Framework will establish “green lanes” for goods bound for Northern Ireland that are intended to remain within UK borders. This means that trusted UK companies will be able to enroll in a new trade scheme which will grant them access to a “radically” simplified process to move goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK with no regular customs checks.The deal will also ensure that food can travel to Northern Ireland from the UK with minimal checks. It reduces the amount of certificates companies have to obtain before transporting food across the Irish Sea. However, any food intended for consumption only in Northern Ireland will have to be labelled “not for EU,” since the products may not have been manufactured in compliance with EU regulations.Additionally, medicine in Northern Ireland will be subject to UK regulation instead of EU oversight. This also entails that the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), an EU regulation intended to ensure the authenticity of medicine, is no longer in force in the country. Retailers in Northern Ireland will no longer have to scan the barcodes of individual prescriptions to register their sales with the FMD system.The framework’s key political provision is the so-called “Stormont Brake,” which allows a group of 30 Northern Ireland members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) to halt any new EU rule that would apply to Northern Ireland. If such a rule is halted, it could only be implemented upon an agreement between the British Government and the EU. This provision is intended to ensure agreement between unionist and nationalist factions in Northern Ireland on any new EU provision affecting the country.The Windsor Framework comes after a dispute over the proposed unilateral UK Reformed Northern Ireland Protocol, which was set aside after the deal was announced. The proposal sought to implement simplified trade procedures, but it was publicly opposed by a majority of Northern Ireland MLAs over economic concerns. It also became the subject of an EU legal challenge as the EU was not convinced that the UK would carry out proper trade checks and share trade data.
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