By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) -- The U.K. and the European Union sealed a deal on Monday to resolve their thorny post-Brexit trade dispute over Northern Ireland, hailing the agreement as the start of a "new chapter" in their often fractious relationship.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the grandly titled "Windsor Framework" after agreeing to the final details in Windsor, near London.
Von der Leyen told a news conference it was "historic what we have achieved today." Sunak said there had been a "decisive breakthrough."
The agreement, which will allow goods to flow freely to Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K., ends a dispute that has soured U.K.-EU relations, sparked the collapse of the Belfast-based regional government and shaken Northern Ireland's decades-old peace process.
Fixing it ends a long-running irritant for von der Leyen and is a big victory for Sunak -- but not the end of his troubles. Selling the deal to his own Conservative Party and its Northern Irish allies may be a tougher struggle. Now Sunak awaits the judgment of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which is boycotting the region's power-sharing government until the trade arrangements are changed to its satisfaction.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. that shares a border with an EU member, the Republic of Ireland. When the U.K. left the bloc in 2020, the two sides agreed to keep the Irish border free of customs posts and other checks because an open border is a key pillar of Northern Ireland's peace process.
Instead, there are checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. That angered British unionist politicians in Belfast, who say the new trade border in the Irish Sea undermines Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom.
The Democratic Unionist Party collapsed Northern Ireland's Protestant-Catholic power-sharing government a year ago in protest and has refused to return until the rules are scrapped or substantially rewritten.
The party's leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said there had been "significant progress" but "key issues of concern" remained. He said the party would study the details before responding.
Sunak said the new rules "removed any sense of a border in the Irish Sea" by eliminating checks and paperwork for the vast majority of goods entering Northern Ireland. Only those destined to travel onward to EU member Ireland will be checked.
"Today's agreement delivers smooth-flowing trade within the whole United Kingdom, protects Northern Ireland's place in our union and safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland," Sunak said.
The British pound rose against the dollar after the deal was announced, and business groups welcomed the agreement.