Breakthrough in Windsor: After years of dispute over the special Brexit rules for Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the EU have reached an agreement. The German press agency learned this on Monday from EU circles. The breakthrough came at a meeting between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Windsor, west of London. Both wanted to announce details of the agreement in a press conference that afternoon. A meeting with King Charles was also on the agenda for von der Leyen.
Specifically, it is about the implementation of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which was negotiated as part of the Brexit Treaty. It stipulates that the customs border between Great Britain and the EU runs in the Irish Sea. This was to prevent border controls between British Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland having to be introduced. Otherwise it was expected that the conflict about unifying the two parts of Ireland would flare up again.
But the controls also cause difficulties in intra-British trade. Union Protestant supporters in Northern Ireland feel cut off from Britain. London therefore wanted to renegotiate the contract. Britain has been out of the European Union for three years following a referendum. The EU now consists of 27 members.
The dispute had put a strain on relations between London and Brussels, but also on relations between London and Berlin. It is now eagerly awaited whether Sunak will also find support for the agreement from Brexit hardliners in his Conservative Party and the Northern Irish Protestant Party DUP. The DUP has been blocking the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland for months in protest at the regulation.