Joint submission: Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission submission to the Inquiry on Windsor Framework by the House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol.
Date produced: May 2023.
Below is a summary of the recommendations and messages.
You can also download the full document through the links provided.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission for NI recommend:
- the UK Government and the NI Executive monitor the impact on equality and human rights in NI, of any divergence of rights on the island of Ireland resulting from the Stormont Brake being applied to block EU legislation which would have, if introduced, strengthened equality or human rights;
- the Sub-Committee considers the recommendations set out in the Commissions’ Policy recommendations: EU developments in equality and human rights which relate to the broader context of the increasing divergence of equality and human rights on the island of Ireland post Brexit;
- equality and human rights considerations are built into all key stages of the ‘Stormont Brake’ mechanism, including inquiries by the Windsor Framework Democratic Scrutiny (WFDS) Committee;
- the WFDS Committee undertakes meaningful and timely engagement with equality and human rights groups in NI and the Commissions in relation to a proposed EU measure, or a replacement EU act, so as to seek their views on the implications for the promotion and protection of equality and human rights in NI;
- the word ‘communities’ is interpreted broadly to include a consideration of, for example, equality and human rights impacts including the impacts, for example, on Section 75 equality groups;
- equality and human rights considerations are built into the revised process under original Protocol Article 13(4);
- the NI Assembly, in advance of passing an applicability motion regarding the addition of a new measure to an Annex of the Windsor Framework, should give consideration to meaningful and timely engagement with the Commissions and equality and human rights stakeholders;
- the development of “structured sub-groups” within the Joint Consultative Working Group (JCWG) includes establishing a group that focuses on issues relating to Windsor Framework Article 2 and equality and human rights in NI;
- the UK Government and EU work together to ensure that there are timely updates and relevant information exchange on developments in European Union law, to aid the effective implementation of Windsor Framework Article 2;
- the EU (and UK Government) ensure the Commissions are given early notice of relevant EU law and policy developments and that the Commissions have opportunities to highlight in advance any implications of those developments for equality and human rights law in Northern Ireland;
- the European Commission’s engagement with NI stakeholders includes timely, targeted, and structured engagement, both with the Commissions, as the dedicated mechanism, and also with equality and human rights groups in NI on EU proposals that have implications for equality and human rights in NI;
- the European Commission’s impact assessment, as regards NI, on draft EU proposals includes a specific assessment of the impact on the promotion and protection of equality and human rights, including any issues of relevance to the UKG’s compliance with Windsor Framework Article 2;
- compliance with Windsor Framework Article 2 be considered from the earliest stages in the development of policy and legislation;
- the UK Government and NI Executive ensure that Explanatory Memoranda on draft UK and NI legislative proposals that are likely to engage Windsor Framework Article 2 sets out what consideration has been given to ensuring conformity with Windsor Framework Article 2;
- the Sub-Committee ask the NI Secretary of State to set out, in detail, what consideration was given to compliance with Windsor Framework Article 2 in the development of the Windsor Framework (Democratic Scrutiny) Regulations 2023;
- the Sub-Committee ask the Leader of the House of Commons for an update in terms of the development of guidance, relating to how consideration of Windsor Framework Article 2 can be built into the Whitehall legislative drafting processes and procedures.
 ECNI, NIHRC, IHREC, Policy Recommendations: European Union Developments in Equality and Human Rights: The Impact of Brexit on the Divergence of Rights and Best Practice on the Island of Ireland, 2023