This week, we take an in depth look at the new deal between the UK and the EU, the Windsor Framework, and assess how this differs to the existing Northern Ireland Protocol, whether it will fix the issues for the food industry, and what to look out for.
What’s in the Windsor Framework?
The Prime Minister and President of the EU Commission have announced the Windsor Framework, intended to address issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Framework proposes major changes to the Protocol including:
- “Green lanes” for goods moving from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI), allowing them to enter with minimal paperwork, although some physical checks will occur
- “Red Lanes” for goods moving from GB to NI for onward movement to the EU. Normal border processes will apply for these
- Any goods legal for sale in the UK will be legal for sale in NI (paras 20, 21 and 22), including those previously banned
- The whole island of Ireland will continue to be managed as a single “epidemiological area” and measures will continue to be taken to control biological risk
For further insight on the new UK-EU deal, see our full analysis here.
Will it fix the issues?
The new Framework moves the grocery supply chain serving NI away from the EU model and into much closer alignment with the rest of the UK. It addresses many of the recognised issues with the Protocol and should help grocery businesses in GB to go on supplying customers in NI, with much less cost and complexity.
The Framework safeguards the interests of grocery shoppers in NI. It should also assist GB grocery businesses that send goods to NI, through:
- Lower operational costs
- Reduced administration complexity
- Reduced liability
- Better fit with modern supply chain practices (e.g., mixed loads, central distribution)
There is, however, some way to go before the Framework can be implemented in full. Experience has shown that businesses often have specific, highly technical concerns which are easily overlooked as new practices are developed. In particular, businesses will require further clarity and detail over how sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks will be managed.
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