The Windsor Framework - New Customs Agreement for NI
On the 27th February, the UK Government and EU Commission announced that an agreement in principle had been reached between themselves regarding the Windsor Framework.
The Windsor Framework ('the agreement') amends the text and provisions of the original Protocol to uphold Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom. The agreement delivers a form of dual regulation that both parties believe will work for business and consumers in Northern Ireland and support the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
Additional information can be viewed at:-
The new Framework removes what many had regarded as a “hard border” in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom - which is to be welcomed.
Whilst there are still further details to be provided on how the new systems will operate, it is known that there will be a considerable reduction in customs processes with the introduction of “Red” and “Green” lanes for goods being sent to Northern Ireland. Whilst an ICS Safety and Security Declaration will still be required for goods entering Northern Ireland the amount of data that will be required in the customs declaration will be reduced.
To quote the text in the Command Paper:-
“The agreement puts in place a full set of new arrangements, through a new UK internal market system (or green lane) for internal trade. This will mean that goods being sold in Northern Ireland will be freed of unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties, using only ordinary commercial information rather than customs processes or complex certification requirements for agrifood.”
For some time HMRC has been sharing data with their EU counterparts, and it is this ability to share accurate data which underpins the commercial basis of the new agreement.
“The agreement establishes a new UK internal trade scheme based on commercial data-sharing, not international customs processes, for the movement of goods”
BIFA has already been contacted by government on this matter, the Association has expressed its view that clarification is needed on the detail of the customs processes but is looking forward to working with the authorities to ensure a successful implementation of the Windsor Framework.
Subsequent Government information released on the 28th February has advised that “Businesses do not need to take any action right now and should continue as per current arrangements which will continue to apply. We will consult and work with business over the coming months ahead of implementing any changes required by these arrangements”