On 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, and all EU policies. This will bring far-reaching changes, affecting citizens, businesses, public administrations and stakeholders in both the EU and the UK.
A new “Trade and Cooperation Agreement” was reached end of December 2020 to govern their future relations now that the UK is a third country.
What changes since 1 January 2021?
Even with the new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement in place, there are big changes since 1 January 2021. The UK left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements. It will put an end to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital with the EU. The EU and the UK will form two separate markets; two distinct regulatory and legal spaces. This will recreate barriers to trade in goods and services and to cross-border mobility and exchanges.
The EU-UK Agreement provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods. To benefit from these trade preferences, businesses must prove that their products fulfil all necessary ‘rules of origin’ requirements. To facilitate compliance and cut red tape, the Agreement allows traders to self-certify the origin of goods and provides for ‘full cumulation’ (meaning traders can account not only for the originating materials used, but also if processing took place in the UK or EU).
Customs procedures will be simplified under the Agreement, as both Parties have agreed, e.g. to recognise each other’s programmes for trusted traders (“Authorised Economic Operators”). Nonetheless, as the UK has decided to leave the Customs Union, checks will apply to all goods traded. All UK goods entering the EU will still have to meet the EU’s high regulatory standards, including on food safety (e.g. sanitary and phytosanitary standards) and product safety.