Understanding the Windsor Framework
Unveiling the Windsor Framework: A New Era for UK Trade and Northern Ireland
On the 27th of February, a historic agreement was reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union, ushering in a transformative set of arrangements known as the Windsor Framework. These arrangements aim to restore the smooth flow of trade within the UK internal market, safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the Union, and address the democratic deficit that had been a central issue within the original Northern Ireland Protocol. The agreement was formally adopted at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on March 24th, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing Brexit process.
The Path Forward
As part of the UK government’s commitment to supporting businesses during the implementation of these groundbreaking arrangements, this blog post provides an overview of how the Windsor Framework will work in practice. It is important to note that further guidance and details will be continually updated as they become available.
The implementation of the Windsor Framework will occur in stages, extending into 2025, to ensure that businesses have sufficient time to adapt to the new arrangements. Some aspects of the framework have already come into force, while others are scheduled to take effect in the coming years.
As of May 1st, 2023, a temporary VAT zero-rate was introduced in Northern Ireland for the domestic installation of solar panels, insulation, heat pumps, and other energy-saving materials, a relief that was previously blocked by the Protocol. Additionally, a permanent scheme has been introduced to support the movement and sale of second-hand cars from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Moreover, a new reimbursement scheme for EU duty paid on “at-risk” goods sold or used outside the EU was launched on June 30th, 2023.
From September 30th, 2023, a new UK Internal Market Scheme will expand the scope of businesses benefiting from the new arrangements, including the removal of EU tariffs. Simultaneously, “green lane” sanitary and phytosanitary arrangements will take effect, streamlining the movement of agrifood retail products and allowing plants and seed potatoes to move smoothly into Northern Ireland.
By September 2024, the full “green lane” will be operational for all goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, minimizing bureaucracy and customs requirements. New arrangements for parcel movements between these regions will also simplify customs declarations for deliveries to consumers.
In 2025, a new framework for the supply of medicines into Northern Ireland will be established, ensuring that medicines approved by UK authorities are readily available. This will enable a unified licensing and packaging system for medicines across the United Kingdom.
Throughout this transition, existing grace periods and practical arrangements will be maintained to provide businesses with certainty and a smooth shift to the new framework.
Continual Updates and Support
For detailed information on each of these new arrangements, please refer to the linked guidance pages provided throughout this post. The UK government remains committed to updating this guidance regularly, in addition to engaging with industry and stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.
The Windsor Framework represents a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to redefine the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. It is designed to streamline trade, protect Northern Ireland’s place in the Union, and address key issues that emerged during the Brexit process. As these arrangements are gradually implemented, businesses and stakeholders will play a vital role in shaping the future of trade in this dynamic region. Stay tuned for further updates and guidance as we embark on this transformative journey together.