Framework will ensure North's consumers get same goods as rest of UK, says EU chief

Framework Will Ensure North's Consumers Get Same Goods As Rest Of Uk, Says Eu Chief
Maros Sefcovic, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Claudia Savage, PA

The Windsor Framework will ensure consumers in Northern Ireland and the UK have access to the same goods, but the European Court of Justice remains the sole arbiter of EU law, the vice-president of the European Commission has said.

Maros Sefcovic said the Windsor Framework will make trade between the UK and Northern Ireland smoother and ensure that the same food and medicines would be available in both regions.


Mr Sefcovic was speaking remotely to TDs on the EU Affairs Committee to discuss EU-UK Relations and the Windsor Framework at Leinster House in Dublin.

“The movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which are not at risk of entering the EU single market, has been made smoother for trusted traders,” he said.



“Consumers in Northern Ireland, will find the same foods on supermarket shelves as in the rest of the UK, whilst safeguards will also be in place including labelling and SPS inspection facilities.

“And a permanent solution has also been found to ensure that people in Northern Ireland have access to all medicines at the same time, and under the same conditions as in the rest of the UK.”

Mr Sefcovic said the EU hoped that extensive discussions during implementation of the Windsor Framework would mean the Stormont brake would need to be used very rarely.


The Stormont brake would allow 30 MLAs to veto the introduction of new EU laws in Northern Ireland.

Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary
Maros Sefcovic, left, meets Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris as they arrive for a dinner marking the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (Charles McQuillan/PA)

Mr Sefcovic said the brake mechanism would be an “additional instrument” for the Northern Ireland Assembly.


He added: “I think that mechanism is quite well described in the Windsor framework and I think that by these extensive consultations, we would make sure that they would need to use this instrument on very rare occasions.

“Because our aim then, I think we share it together with our UK partners, is to clarify, hopefully everything, if not everything as much as possible before it will reach the political level and we have every intention to do that.”

Before the vote on the Stormont brake in the House of Commons last month, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said the EU could initiate a dispute if it believed the UK had improperly used the brake.

Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary
Tanaiste Micheal Martin met the EU Commission chief (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Heaton-Harris clarified that the resolution of such a dispute would be carried out by an arbitration panel and the European Court of Justice would have no role in that scenario.

Mr Sefcovic said the European Court of Justice remains as the sole arbiter of EU law under the Windsor Framework.

“And finally, a matter that was of key importance to us, the role of the European Court of Justice has not changed,” he said.

“It remains the sole and final arbiter of the EU law.”

Mr Sefcovic stated that the UK choosing to diverge from EU law would create barriers to trade.

“We must continue addressing more difficult topics, such as the Retained EU Law Bill and the Bill of Rights Bill,” he said.

“The UK is, of course, entitled to diverge from the EU if it wishes to do so, but more divergence carries more costs and even further deepens the barriers to trade between the EU and the UK.

“Having said that, I believe that we have a mutual interest in the trade and co-operation agreement working well.”

Mr Sefcovic also stated that the UK government was committed to the implementation of the agreement and the European Commission was working well with the UK.

“The Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and I have agreed to work intensively and faithfully to implement all elements of the Windsor framework.

“On our side, the Commission has already transmitted the legislative proposals necessary to implement our part of the framework to the council,” he said.

“Our co-operation with both the European Parliament and the Council remain excellent and we are in constant contact with our UK partners who, likewise, are working hard on their implementation work.”

Politicians from the EU, UK and Northern Ireland spoke of the economic potential of the Windsor Framework during last week’s Agreement 25 conference in Belfast.

Mr Sefcovic said he had met with Tánaiste Micheál Martin in Dublin, and with Chris Heaton-Harris and Joe Kennedy III, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, in Belfast, where the investment opportunities of the framework were discussed.

“I think what we heard in both meetings was how important it is for business leaders to have reassurances on legal certainty, on predictability because they see them as a key ingredients of a thriving business environment,” he said.

“And therefore, on both occasions there was a huge interest in our new agreement, but also I can tell you that what we felt was there was a huge investment appetite around the table, as well as readiness to maximise the opportunities afforded by the Windsor Framework for Northern Ireland, for Ireland, I would say for all Ireland economy.”

Mr Sefcovic added that he felt pride in signing the Windsor Framework into law.

“I felt a sense of pride, of accomplishment and also of solidarity with people living on the island of Ireland,” he said.

“What we put in place that day, it is a framework that provides practical solutions to the everyday problems being encountered by people and businesses in Northern Ireland.

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