Windsor Framework Announcement

A new framework known as the Windsor Framework has been formally announced by the UK and the EU, designed to improve trading between the Northern Ireland and the UK and the EU .

In January 2020, the UK officially left the EU in a process known as Brexit. The biggest stumbling block in the trade agreements between the UK and the European Union was establishing a workable customs arrangement to operate on the Island of Ireland, where the UK has it’s only land border with the EU.

Several options were on the table, but the final option agreed upon, proposed by Boris Johnson’s UK government became known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, and effectively put a border down the Irish Sea, meaning that all goods travelling between the UK and the Island of Ireland were subject to customs checks.

This was seen as unacceptable by the biggest unionist party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, as it meant that Northern Ireland was forced to follow EU laws whilst the rest of the UK were no longer to European rules and regulations.

It didn’t take long for the Protocol to become unpopular as companies trying to send goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland found the paperwork was unworkable and made trading with Northern Ireland inhibited and costly. Supermarket shelves became empty of UK products.

It’s unpopularity reached all the way to the Northern Ireland power sharing government in Stormont, where following new elections in the autumn of 2022, the DUP refused to cooperate in forming a new government.

When Boris Johnson was in power, Liz Truss, who was then Foreign Secretary, threatened to break the agreement between the UK and the EU, and this remained a threat when Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

However, Liz Truss’s tenure as Prime Minister was short lived and she was replaced by Rishi Sunak, who set about trying to find a practical solution and a new partnership with the EU over the Northern Ireland trading agreement.

The Windsor Framework, announced on the 27th February, comes after a number of years of negotiations over the sharing of UK customs data. An agreement was finalised in 2022, which has in turn paved the way for a new level of cooperation between the UK and the EU.

The system will see the establishment of green and red lanes for vehicles crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland. Vehicles with goods only destined for Northern Ireland will be able to use the green lane and will not be subject to customs checks. Those who intend to carry onto Southern Ireland and perhaps the rest of the EU will be required to use the red lane. Companies using the green lane will be required to join a trusted traders scheme.

The Framework will require the approval of the DUP who have announced they will not make a final decision until April 2023. The DUP continue to have reservations about the trading arrangements as the new agreement will require Northern Ireland to still be subject to a small number of EU rules. The agreement will also need to be formally passed into law in both the EU and UK.

At Product Compliance Support we have years of experience in helping companies meet EU trading obligations and marking their products with the CE Mark.

Brexit meant that companies selling goods in the UK, no longer need to use the CE Mark, but products destined for the UK market will be required to use the new UKCA mark from January 2025.

Contact us today to find out everything you need to know and ensure you are ready.