British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference in Windsor on February 27, 2023.
London – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed, that Britain and the European Union today reached a new agreement on the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. The deal concerns trade rules in Northern Ireland, which have been a source of tension for the past two years following Britain's departure from the European Union. According to the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Britain today, a “new chapter” begins in the relations between London and the twenty-seven.
“The changes we have achieved will make a huge improvement in the lives of people in Northern Ireland,” Sunak said at a press conference after meeting with the head of the European Commission. He added that today's agreement ensures trouble-free trade within the whole of Britain, protects Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom and also secures sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland.
Von der Leyen also mentioned two specific examples that she considers “telling “. For example, the convention says that the same food will be available in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the UK. It will also permanently allow drugs to be available in Northern Ireland at the same time as in Britain.
As Reuters noted, the deal is a major victory for Sunak, but it does not mean the end of his troubles. He will have to push through the deal in his own Conservative Party and also with its partners in Northern Ireland, which according to the British press will not be easy at all. In particular, it is about whether the agreement will be sufficient for the strongest unionist party, the DUP, which is a key player in the process.