The EU is continuing to put in place the Windsor Framework, which was politically agreed between the Commission and the UK government on 27 February 2023 to address, in a definitive manner, the challenges concerning Northern Ireland following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
On 30th May 2023, the Council adopted three regulations aimed at implementing the joint solutions agreed with the UK regarding public, animal and plant health issues, medicines and certain steel products.
The new rules will make it considerably easier to move a range of goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland if they are destined for final consumption there. At the same time, safeguards will be put in place to prevent such goods from entering the EU’s single market and to ensure the protection of public, animal and plant health, as well as consumer interests in the EU.
The three regulations were agreed between the Council and the European Parliament through a fast-track procedure.
In practice, the new rules regarding sanitary and phytosanitary measures, which protect animal, public and plant health, will make it possible to move agri-food retail products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for end consumption there with minimal certification requirements and controls, once the agreed safeguards have been put in place.
These safeguards include sanitary and phytosanitary inspection facilities and “Not for EU” labelling, which will be introduced gradually by 1 July 2025.
The movement of certain plants for planting, based on a special plant health label, will become easier, as will the movement of agricultural machinery. The ban on seed potatoes will be removed.
Travelling with pets from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will become possible with a simple pet travel document, a microchip, and a declaration by the owner that the pet will not travel to the EU.
Another set of new rules will ensure that all medicines, including novel medicines, will be available in Northern Ireland at the same time as in the rest of the UK. They will be put on the market in accordance with UK rules and authorisation procedures. This complements the solution the EU adopted in April 2022 for the supply of generic medicines to Northern Ireland.
These new arrangements are accompanied by new safeguards, including labelling (“UK only”), to ensure that the medicines do not enter the EU's single market.
The third new piece of legislation will make it possible to transfer certain categories of steel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the EU's tariff rate quotas.
Northern Ireland companies will thus no longer need to pay the 25% tariff linked to the EU safeguard measures currently in place for steel imports into the EU, which will make the transfer economically viable for them again. Again, these additional transfers are mirrored by appropriate safeguards.
The three regulations will enter into force after their publication in the Official Journal. They will be complemented by a set of implementing acts to be adopted by the Commission.
As regards sanitary and phytosanitary measures and medicines, the new arrangements will start to apply gradually once the EU has received appropriate written guarantees from the UK about the implementation of the agreed safeguards.
For more on the Windsor Framework, please click here: