Northern Ireland Brexit deal: At-a-glance

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen have announced they have reached a new deal, aimed at fixing post-Brexit problems in Northern Ireland.

The full details of their agreement have just been published, and we’re working to get you a fuller picture of what’s been decided.

Here is we know about the agreement, named the Windsor Framework, so far:

Green lane/red lane

  • Goods from Britain destined for Northern Ireland will travel through a new “green lane”, with a separate “red lane” for goods at risk of moving onto the EU
  • Products coming into Northern Ireland through the green lane would see checks and paperwork scrapped
  • Red lane goods destined for the EU still be subject to normal checks
  • Mr Sunak said this would mean food available on the supermarket shelves in Great Britain will be available on supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland.
  • New data-sharing arrangements would be used to oversee the new system
  • Where smuggling is suspected, some custom checks may still be carried out on green lane goods
  • Business moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain would not be required to complete export declarations
  • Bans on certain products – like chilled sausages – entering Northern Ireland from Britain would be scrapped

Pets, parcels and medicines

  • “Onerous requirements” on moving pets will be removed
  • Medicines approved for use by the UK regulator available in Northern Ireland pharmacies and hospitals
  • Mr Sunak said that people sending parcels to friends or family or doing online shopping in Northern Ireland will not have to complete customs paperwork

VAT and alcohol duty

  • Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU VAT rules could be applied in Northern Ireland
  • Under the new deal, Mr Sunak says the UK can make “critical VAT” changes which include Northern Ireland
  • For example if the government raises or cuts alcohol duty this will apply to pubs in Northern Ireland as well as the rest of the UK, he said

Stormont brake

  • Under the protocol, some EU law applies in Northern Ireland, but politicians had no formal way to influence the rules
  • New agreement introduces a “Stormont brake” which allows the Northern Ireland Assembly to raise an objection to a new rule
  • The process would be triggered if 30 MLAs (representatives in the Stormont Assembly) from two or more parties sign a petition
  • 14 day consultation period would follow, after which, if 30 MLAs still support it, there would be a vote in the assembly
  • To pass, it would need support from both unionists and nationalist representatives
  • The brake cannot be used for “trivial reasons” but reserved for “significantly different” rules
  • Once the UK tells the EU the brake has been triggered, the rule cannot be implemented
  • It can only be applied if the UK and EU agree.

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