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Windsor Framework

On 27 February 2023 the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that a new agreement had been reached to change the way the Northern Ireland Protocol operates. This agreement is called the Windsor Framework.

It comes after two years of negotiations between the EU and the UK since the Protocol came into force in January 2021. 

The proposed changes to the Protocol are laid out in a UK Government Command Paper, The Windsor Framework: A new way forward (PDF), and a political declaration (PDF).

The Prime Minister also made a detailed statement to the House of Commons. The EU has published materials explaining the agreement as well.

What happens next?

A vote took place in the House of Commons on the 22nd March 2023 that approved the implementation of the Stormont brake section of the new Windsor Framework.

New UK legislation will be required to implement some of the Framework (for example amending the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to implement the “Stormont Brake”). This could potentially be implemented by the regulations (secondary legislation) used to implement the Protocol under Section 8C of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018; though the Government could choose to use primary legislation instead. Regardless, these legal changes will not be needed straight away.

The Joint Committee will need to meet to formally adopt the recommendations and decisions that will implement parts of the Framework.

The EU will also need to pass into law the proposed regulations in areas like medicines, checks on animals and plants, as well as adopting proposed European Council decisions including agreeing to amend the Protocol through the Joint Committee decisions.