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14 Jun 2023

‘What the Windsor Framework/ Protocol will mean in practice for the institutions of government in Northern Ireland?’ 

This seminar explored what the post-Brexit context will mean for the Assembly, the Executive and its departments of government, the North-South institutions and the British Irish Council. The relationships, opportunities, risks and obligations will be very different from anything that has gone before. While there are parallels with the operation of the EEA countries, and others with association agreements with the EU, Northern Ireland will be unique in that it is a region of a non-Member State, and not a separate sovereign jurisdiction. The issues that will arise will be affected not only by the relationship with the EU, but by the place of Northern Ireland within the governance and constitution of the United Kingdom, which will itself also be adapting to new policy opportunities and challenges post-Brexit. Communication and understanding (with NI stakeholders as well as the EU and UK institutions) will be absolutely critical if the opportunities are to be realised, and the potential tensions (which could be very significant) are to be anticipated and navigated to avoid disruption or controversy. 

Andrew McCormick drew on his vast experience of the Brexit process to explore the impact of the Windsor Framework. Thank you to all who joined us at the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels to discuss these issues with Andrew, who has also be produced a paper on the topic which is available to download here.

During the seminar, Michael D’Arcy, Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Cross Border Studies, responded to Andrew’s paper focusing on the ‘specific opportunities’ for the North/South institutions to contribute to the work of its Joint Committee and Specialised Committee on its application and operation. He explored what these opportunities are in the context of the renewed high level political support given to mark the Agreements 25th Anniversary. The EU and Irish Government having made such commitments should now evolve its spirit principles and commitments to develop this future orientated contribution as partners. Options for doing so include leveraging Stand Two’s North/South Ministerial Council and possibly its cross-border bodies along with the EU capacity expertise and engagement that connects Ireland to all that happens in the EU. This could include the NSMC being a ‘clearing house’ to exchange and consider EU information relevant to pursuing the Framework’s specific N/S opportunities. You can read Michael’s response here.



Andrew McCormick

BA in Geology Oxford (1978). PhD in Geochemistry QUB (1989).   

Joined the NI Civil Service in 1980: Department of Finance & Personnel (DFP) up to 1992.  In 1992-93, I worked on the political talks.  

Finance Director in the Department of Education 1993-98; Director, Central Finance Group DFP (1998-2005).  Permanent Secretary of: Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2005-2014); Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (2014-2016), and Department for the Economy from 2016-2018.   

Director General for International Relations, The Executive Office (2018 to 2021), with responsibility for EU Exit issues.   

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