Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen agree Brexit package for Northern Ireland

Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen agree Brexit package for Northern Ireland

Image of Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen. Credit: Twitter@RishiSunak

A Brexit package for Northern Ireland has been agreed upon between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU President Ursula von der Leyen.

The United Kingdom and the European Union have today, Monday, February 27, reached an agreement that replaces the old Northern Ireland Protocol. This had been the point of greatest friction since Brexit.

Today’s deal – within the Windsor Framework – is expected to greatly soften the tensions generated after the British departure from the bloc. The pact was endorsed by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.

In a press conference, the Prime Minister said: “Today’s agreement is written in the language of laws and treaties. But really, it’s about much more than that. It’s about stability in Northern Ireland. It’s about real people and real businesses. It’s about showing that our Union, which has lasted for centuries, can and will endure”.

He added: “And it’s about breaking down the barriers between us. Setting aside the arguments that have for too long, divided us. And remembering the fellow feeling that defines us: This family of nations – this United Kingdom”.

This solves one of the fundamental axes of the agreement insofar as it allows there to be no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In the event of a border being reinstated then the Good Friday Agreement – which will be 25 years old this spring, and put an end to the conflict that lasted decades – would be broken.

Significant concessions had been received from Brussels along the way to engineering today’s result insisted Mr Sunak. In a bid to reduce waiting times and checks, red and green customs lanes will be implemented to split goods that are destined to continue on into the Republic or that will remain for domestic consumption in the North.

All goods destined for the EU will use the red lane. Requirements have been scrapped for trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain on a permanent basis, including the requirement for export declarations. The green lane will be expanded to include food retailers such as supermarkets and hospitality businesses, significantly reducing SPS checks and costly paperwork, and ensuring choice for consumers on supermarket shelves.

The free movement of pets will come into play, along with a change in VAT rules. Under the new deal, the UK will retain full control over excise duties. One of the biggest changes is the ‘Stormont Brake’, which will see the assembly in Stormont having a veto over any new goods laws that the EU might decide to try and implement. As a result, they will have a say on whether such a rule should also apply in the communities in Northern Ireland or not.

It still remains for the DUP and its allies to approve the contents of today’s deal. One of their key sticking points to date has been the role of the European Court of Justice in arbitration.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com