The EU-UK Trade Agreement: New year, new rules

posted by Helen Bull

It was over 4 years ago that the UK voted to leave the EU but at long last a Brexit trade deal has finally been agreed, albeit some matters will be agreed in further detail at a later date.

The deal was agreed just in time before the Brexit transition period expired, much to the relief of businesses across the nation who feared the consequences that a no deal Brexit would have on their trade and operations.

The trade deal, or to give its correct name, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is around 1500 pages long and consists of 3 main agreements which are a Free Trade Agreement, a partnership on citizen’s security and a governance framework. The TCA sets out the new arrangements that are to apply in a wide range of areas such as intellectual property, trade in goods and services, data protection, public procurement, dispute resolution and many more.

Dan Dowen, Commercial Contracts Associate Solicitor sets out below, in brief, some of the changes that we can expect to see going forwards:

  • Trade: no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods between the EU and UK provided that rules of origin are met. However, new custom rules, technical standards and regulatory requirements will need to be met by the UK which could lead to delays and increased costs.
  • Data: in order for data to flow from the EU to UK freely and without restrictions, the UK needs to be declared by the European Commission as ‘adequate’ for data protection purposes. While this declaration has not yet been made, the TCA has provided a 6 month temporary period in which data can be transferred from the EU to the UK without the need to take additional measures.
  • Intellectual Property: a comparable UK right will automatically be created for all existing registered European trademarks and will be protected as domestic UK trade mark.
  • Public procurement: the UK will be able to maintain a separate and independent procurement regime which should provide businesses with additional opportunities.
  • Unfair competition: this was a challenging area for the UK and EU to agree on as the UK want to retain sovereignty in this area and the EU want to ensure their regulatory standards are not undercut causing an unfair trading advantage. The parties have come to an agreement in the TCA that either party may take protective measures if they are being damaged by measures taken by the other party in subsidy, labour, social or climate and environmental policy.

With the transition period now at an end, there are new legal issues that businesses must consider as a result of Brexit. The TCA will create a very different relationship between the EU and UK. It is therefore imperative that businesses are prepared for the new rules.

We at Berry Smith, understand that with the new rules being agreed so close to the end of the transition period, businesses will need to take haste in preparing for the changes and will need to seek legal advice on how they may be affected by the new rules.

Our specialist lawyers have experience and extensive knowledge in a broad range of areas ranging from commercial, corporate, employment, dispute resolution and more. We are therefore well-placed to assist you with your Brexit-related queries.

If you would like further information on this or require any assistance, please contact Dan Dowen at ddowen@berrysmith.com or call 02920 345 511 and ask for the commercial team.