The Windsor Framework – What Has Been Agreed and What It Means for the Northern Ireland Protocol
After months of intensive talks, the United Kingdom and European Union have unveiled an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol, called the Windsor Framework. This is not a new protocol or a fundamental rewrite of the current treaty. But the package announced this week is an improved deal that could substantively ease how the protocol will operate for businesses as well as individuals. It is a negotiating achievement that marks a turning point in the long road since Brexit for Northern Ireland.
When Boris Johnson, as prime minister, suggested in 2022 legislation that sought to rewrite the protocol, we at the Tony Blair Institute argued this was a step in the wrong direction and that the only way to fix problems associated with the protocol was through a negotiated solution, not a unilateral approach that failed to resolve genuine problems and antagonised Britain’s friends and allies. We put forward proposals for a negotiated compromise – some of which have been adopted by the UK and the EU, including the idea of treating goods based on their final destination, giving Northern Ireland’s elected representatives a greater role in governing the protocol and delivering the outcome through a carefully calibrated legal form that alters the practical effects of the protocol rather than renegotiating the treaty from scratch.
With a genuine negotiated resolution now agreed, we examine the new revisions, concessions and obligations – and explore the uncertainties that remain. Read the full blog.