The United Kingdom (UK) Government and European Union (EU) Commission reached an agreement in principle on 27 February 2023 to change the Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol, the agreed changes will be known as the “Windsor Framework”.
The Windsor Framework, if passed into law, will change the text of the NI Protocol, removing trade barriers impacting goods travelling from Great Britain (GB) to NI.
The NI Protocol
The original NI Protocol was agreed as part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement announced on 24 December 2020, which came into force on 1 January 2021. The NI Protocol was designed by the EU in order to protect the single market, and to avoid creating a customs border on the island of Ireland as a result of Brexit.
As a result of the NI protocol, NI in effect remained inside the EU’s single market and customs union for goods. Goods from NI can flow to EU countries without customs checks, tariffs or new customs paperwork.
The UK formally left the the EU customs union and single market on 31 December 2020. Businesses in England, Scotland and Wales (unlike those in NI) must now make customs declarations when exporting to the EU.
The NI Protocol set out that customs checks and customs paperwork were now required (for the first time) when sending goods from GB to NI. Export declarations are required for goods shipped from NI to GB. Other EU regulations also apply to goods sent from GB to NI (eg product safety). Certain agricultural goods can no longer be shipped from GB to NI, such as seed potatoes.
Issues with the NI Protocol
The NI protocol effectively created a customs border in the Irish Sea between GB and NI. The introduction of customs documentation and customs checks has had a significant impact on GB to NI trade. GB based companies either stopped shipping to NI or reduced significantly the range of goods shipped from GB to NI.
Currently a range of easements and grace periods have been used to suspend the introduction of certain customs rules and checks that should be applied under the Protocol. Uncertainty surrounding the future of these checks and procedures has left businesses in GB and NI unable to plan for the future.
The Windsor Framework
The Windsor Framework removes many of the trade barriers between GB and NI created as a result of the NI Protocol. The framework establishes new “Green” and “Red” lanes for goods shipped from GB to NI. The “Green” lane will relate to goods being sold within NI only, creating an internal UK market. Goods being shipped from GB to NI via the “Green” lane will see a large reduction in customs paperwork and customs checks.
Goods deemed “at risk” of entering the EU will travel along “red” lanes, including goods entering the Republic of Ireland. Goods in the “red” lane will be subject to the normal customs procedures and checks that apply when goods are shipped from GB to any EU country.
The Windsor Framework is based on increased information sharing between HM Revenue and Customs and EU authorities. More detail will be published in due course as to how the new “Green” and “Red” lanes will operate in practice. At this stage it is believed the new rules will come into force in the autumn.
The UK Government outlined on the 28 February that “businesses do not need to take any action right now and should continue as per current arrangements which will continue to apply”.
If you have any queries or have any questions relating to the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, please contact us at Tudor International Freight, on 0333 1234 747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Us - Tudor International Freight
Established in Horsforth, Leeds, back in 1991, we are a logistics company who are experts in road, air and sea freight. We transport goods to most major cities, towns and suburbs across all 6 continents. We go over and above to ensure that our client’s products, goods and cargo are transported around the world safely and successfully. We are a family business, based in Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire and are passionate about the local culture; which is why we are sponsors of the Horsforth Horse.