The UK and EU have both hailed a new agreement that will govern how post-Brexit trading will affect Northern Ireland and ease many of the tensions that have emerged over the last few years.
Unveiled by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at a joint press conference, the deal, known as the Windsor Framework, will supersede the Northern Ireland Protocol proposed by the previous Boris Johnson government and set out clear rules for trade across the Irish Sea.
Among its key provisions are the creation of a 'green lane' for goods being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which will mean significantly reduced checks and paperwork for items destined to remain within the UK's border.
For items that are expected to move on to the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere in the EU, a 'red lane' will be implemented that will see current checks continue to be carried out.
To oversee this system, there will be new arrangements on labeling and data sharing. This will include clear 'Not for EU' labeling on products using the green lane, while the EU will have near real-time access to the relevant UK customs databases and IT systems that record movements of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Mr Sunak said: "Today's agreement is written in the language of laws and treaties. But really, it’s about much more than that. It's about stability in Northern Ireland. It's about real people and real businesses ... and it's about breaking down the barriers between us. Setting aside the arguments that have for too long, divided us."
While there remain some concerns among hardline Brexit supporters in Mr Sunak's Conservative party and among Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, there are hopes that concessions made will ensure the UK retains control over its sovereignty.
The new agreement will reduce the proportion of EU rules that apply in Northern Ireland to less than three percent, while a proposed 'Stormont brake' will allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to raise an objection to a new goods rule.
Ms Von Der Leyen added: "The Windsor Framework was made possible by genuine political will and hard work guided by the fundamental principle that the interests and needs of people should always come first ... Today, our achievement allows us to put forward definitive solutions that work for people and businesses in Northern Ireland and that protect our single market."