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“Borderless” in the Irish Sea: the European Union and …

EU Commission President von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Sunak present their agreement in Windsor. Parliament must vote on it. Sunak has to reckon with criticism, especially from his own party.

It could mark an end to the years-long stalemate in the long history of Brexit. The EU and Great Britain finally want to settle the Brexit dispute over Northern Ireland. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Windsor to hammer out a potential deal with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. She wrote on Twitter before Sunak welcomed her to Windsor, near London, that she was excited to “start a new chapter with our partner and friend”.

Sunak and von der Leyen introduced and commented on the outcome of the talks at a joint press conference that ended just before 5pm. The mechanisms designed to make life easier for people in Northern Ireland have been largely leaked in recent days. You want to give everyone involved enough time to examine the details and form an opinion about the set of rules.

Green and red track

British Prime Minister Sunak said the new agreement between Britain and the European Union would eliminate any sense of borders in the Irish Sea. The agreement provides for different ‘corridors’ for goods coming into Northern Ireland. The green corridor is for imports that remain in Northern Ireland – where customs procedures are supposed to be reduced. The red corridor is for goods and products that go further into Ireland, i.e. the European Union. Here customs procedures and regulations remain in force. Sunak was convinced the agreement would solve many people’s practical problems. “If food is available in Great Britain, it will also be available in Northern Ireland.” Those who have an expulsion no longer have to deal with bureaucracy.

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The new “Windsor Framework” – as the agreement is called, the legal framework for the Northern Ireland Protocol – is a set of rules that are drafted legally, but will make life easier for the people of the region.

Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the importance of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement. This peace, made possible by the Good Friday Agreement, can continue to be guaranteed.

Then King Charles was to receive the chairman of the commission. In the evening, Sunak wants to inform Parliament of the outcome of the talks. He is now anxiously awaiting whether Sunak will also find support for the deal from Brexit hardliners in his own Conservative party and the Protestant Party in Northern Ireland. The DUP has been blocking the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland for months in protest of the regulation.

Controversial chapter of the Brexit treaty

The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit Treaty regarding Britain’s exit from the European Union. It states that the customs border between Great Britain and the European Union operates in the Irish Sea. This was to prevent border controls between British Northern Ireland and the EU member Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, it was expected that the conflict over the unification of the two parts of Ireland would break out again.

But the controls also cause difficulties in British internal trade. Supporters of the Protestant Union in Northern Ireland feel isolated from Britain. So London wanted to renegotiate the contract.

Criticisms of Von der Leyen’s Visit to King Charles

Von der Leyen’s planned meeting with the king caused him to frown. The king always strictly stays out of everyday politics. It is therefore considered unusual for him to meet with von der Leyen on the same day that a controversial agreement with Brussels would be concluded. Critics accused Sunak of using the king for his own purposes. A spokesman for the prime minister confirmed that the decision on who will receive the king rests with the palace alone.

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Sunak is under pressure from his predecessor Boris Johnson, who may hope to make a comeback by presenting himself as a pure Brexiter. But the Brexit hardliners in the Conservative party are now unlikely to revolt. Brexit champion and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker was very optimistic about the agreement expected on Monday. The Conservative politician told reporters in Downing Street that the prime minister was on the verge of a “fantastic deal for all parties involved” in talks with the EU. Recently there has been speculation about Baker’s resignation in protest of the agreement.

(APA / dpa / klepa)