Report proves problems have not been settled by Windsor Framework

The DUP's Lord Dodds has issued a detailed comment on the 7th Report by the House of Lord's Sub-Committee on the NI Protocol.

By The Rt Hon Lord Dodds of Duncairn OBE Peer

Lord Dodds said,

"The Report of the House of Lords Select Committee highlights a number of significant issues which in our view justify our grave concerns about the Windsor Framework.

One key conclusion is that the Windsor Framework makes things worse for many businesses compared to what they have experienced up to now.

The original Protocol was unworkable and could not be implemented without major damage to our economy. That led to grace periods and easements. Now these are to be done away with and replaced with the more onerous and burdensome Windsor Framework provisions.

The Windsor Framework renders us worse off in terms of the Irish Sea border and creates greater checks and barriers to trade with the rest of the UK compared to what we have experienced thus far, even if it theoretically improves upon the original version of the Protocol which was unworkable in any case.

There are real issues around the workability of the red and green lanes in practice.

The report points out there are still many unresolved and outstanding problems that have not been settled by the Windsor Framework.

It looks through the hype and spin around the government narrative on the Windsor Framework and objectively analyses the truth behind the propaganda.

It is clear that the Windsor Framework fails the 7 tests set by the DUP. The events at Westminster last week, where the government sacked 5 of its own MPs from a committee to force through the new border for sending parcels to Northern Ireland, illustrates the reality of what it is actually doing versus the spin it tries to peddle."

In this respect the Report states:

“In important respects, and in particular for the non-retail sector that Windsor framework will be more burdensome than the protocol as it has operated to date with various grace periods and derogations.”(para 39)

The report also makes clear “that retailers which are not able to meet the green lane’s requirements, as well as meat for processing, live, poultry, dairy, agri-intermediate goods and grain for animal consumption, goods for manufacturing and goods, where there is any uncertainty over the end destination, are likely to move via the red lane.” (Para 69)

It says “Stakeholders argued that for many businesses, the movement of goods is likely to be more burdensome than the protocol as it has operated to date, with the various grace periods and easements in place.” (Para 69)

Even for large retailers able to use the green lane, some checks on the movement of goods from GB to NI remain ( para 39). These do not apply at present.

It also highlights the concern of businesses “that the Windsor Framework does not address issues with groupage and mixed loads, and those moving multiple products from multiple consumers may be compelled to use the red lane even if only a small minority of such products are destined for the EU.” (para 72)

Other outstanding issues include the movement of livestock from Northern Ireland to Great Britain and back, retagging of animals, and the movement of halal and kosher meat and ritual items to Northern Ireland.(para 73)


One of our major concerns is the detrimental effects of the unnecessary imposition of EU laws on N Ireland businesses and consumers without the consent by the people of N Ireland.

The Report highlights this : “If retailers based in Great Britain are able to use the green lane to supply the Northern Ireland market, this could place Northern Ireland businesses at a competitive disadvantage in their own market since they still need to comply with EU rules for goods.” (Para 70)

And again at para 173 it points out that:

“The Windsor Framework could undercut the competitiveness of Northern Ireland businesses, which are required to ensure compliance with EU rules for goods, compared to competitors in Great Britain able to access the Northern Ireland market via the green lane.”

On the issue of the denial of democracy and the supremacy of EU law in N Ireland, the report highlights the assertions of the government against the reality of what has actually happened:

“The government’s reference to the disapplication of 1700 pages of EU law from Northern Ireland under the Windsor Framework has caused uncertainty and confusion. While a small number of EU rules have been disapplied in Northern Ireland in their entirety, the main basis for the government’s statistic appears to be the 65 EU acts listed in Annex 1 of the EU regulation on rules relating to movements of retail goods moving through the green lane…..While these laws are disapplied for the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland via the green lane, they will apply for movement of goods via the red lane, and for all goods produced in Northern Ireland itself.” (Para 196)

The Committee points out that “The continued application of EU law in Northern Ireland remains politically contentious.” (Para 197)

Indeed the committee has previously drawn attention to the democratic deficit whereby EU laws apply to Northern Ireland without its prior consent.

It points out there are mixed views on the Stormont Brake but makes the point that many stress that the stormont brake has a limited scope and applies only to new amending or replacement EU laws and not those that currently apply to Northern Ireland. Further, it applies only to a subset of rules within the scope of the original protocol. It also means that the Assembly can only reject laws within its scope and cannot make those laws for itself. (Para 247)

The conditions which must exist for the stormont brake to be pulled set a high bar for its use. It is the UK government, not the Assembly which retains the power to exercise a veto and a notification from MLAs can be set aside by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in a number of circumstances. Furthermore, any exercise of a veto can result in “remedial action” by the EU. (Para 248)

Significantly the Committee finds there has been no substantive change to the Court of Justice of the European Union‘s role as the final arbiter of EU law falling within the scope of the Windsor framework… apart from specific provisions around the Stormont Brake (Para 277)

Other significant issues include:-


“Business representatives stress that regulatory divergence, whether between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Ireland, remains their number one concern. There is an underlying fear that Northern Ireland will find itself in a no man’s land between Great Britain and the EU placing the competitiveness of Northern Ireland firms and their complex supply chains in jeopardy.” (Para 183)


The stated purpose of the UK wide labelling requirement was to underpin N Ireland’s position within the UK, yet the first phase of the Retail Movement Scheme is limited to relevant goods moving to NI only. The Report states that the government should set out what assessment it has made of the implications of the staggered introduction of labelling requirements for Northern Ireland place within the United Kingdom internal market. (Para 86)

The danger is that by delaying the introduction for the rest of the Uk businesses will stop supplying NI or divert supply chains to the south.


The new postal package legislation has engendered considerable controversy as it establishes a border in the Irish Sea. The report states “while the provisions are less burdensome than the protocol as originally conceived, they represent an increase in customs processes for business movements compared to the protocol as it has operated to date, in particular for business to business movements or suppliers are not trusted traders.” (Para 99)


There are easements in farming and horticultural sectors. However, the report says “the movement from Great Britain to Northern Ireland for planting of a large number of species, including several of key importance to the ecosystem, remains prohibited.” (Para 107)

The committee notes that “Plants and trees are only available via registered operators, such as garden centres, and not via online shopping.”


The report notes that veterinary, far in and agri-food sectors have expressed “Serious concern that a mutually agreed solution has yet to be reached” regarding veterinary medicines.

“Without a permanent solution, the supply of over 50% of veterinary medicines to Northern Ireland may be discontinued posing a risk to both the animal and human health and the agri-food supply chains.” (Para 127)


Pets will require to be micro chipped and a travel document obtained valid for the lifetime of the pet for those moving pets from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. (Para 133)


On VAT “Potential flexibilities already existed under the original protocol.”

“EU VAT rules continue to apply in Northern Ireland for goods as a default. (Para 143)


State Aid has not been sorted out with much uncertainty remaining regarding N Ireland and indeed the UK as a whole being bound to EU rules (Paras 154, 155)


New excise duty on alcohol in Great Britain can only apply to bars and restaurants. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to offer duty-free on flights to and from the EU. (Para 144)

NB From the Committee Report:-

“The cross-party membership of the Sub-Committee, drawn from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, has a wide range of expertise in Northern Ireland affairs. Our membership represents a range of views, both on Northern Ireland’s constitutional position and on the Windsor Framework itself. While some of us support the Windsor Framework, others of us either oppose it or retain significant concerns over it.”

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