The United Kingdom and the European Union are scheduled to formally adopt this Friday their new agreement on the post-Brexit provisions in Northern Ireland, which, however, failed to end the political blockade in that British region with its troubled past.
The British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverlyand the vice-president of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, will sign the so-called “Windsor framework” at a meeting in London.
British lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a crucial part of the deal on Wednesday despite a rebellion by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other eurosceptic Conservatives who voted against it.
Northern Ireland’s main unionist party, the DUP, also voted against the key measure, which gives the Northern Irish Home Rule Parliament a veto over new EU rules being implemented in the region.
Despite “representing real progress”, the new agreement “does not address the fundamental issue, that is, the imposition of EU law” in Northern Ireland, Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, had justified last week.
The “Windsor framework”, reached last month between London and Brussels, updates the so-called Northern Irish protocol negotiated in 2020 by Johnson in the framework of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
That protocol kept Northern Ireland within the single European market, with the aim of avoiding a “hard” land border with the neighboring Republic of Ireland, a member country of the EU, which would threaten the fragile peace between republicans and unionists.
However, to do this it imposed customs controls on products arriving in the region from the rest of the United Kingdom, which the DUP denounced as a threat to Northern Ireland’s place within the country.
In protest, this party has blocked Northern Irish regional institutions for a year, where Catholics and Protestants must share power under the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, which ended three decades of conflict that left more than 3,600 dead.
In a statement, Cleverly hailed the “Windsor framework” as “the best deal for Northern Ireland, securing its place in the UK and protecting” the Good Friday deal.