The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect on 1 January 2021. Before the implementation of the UK-EU TCA, much of the goods and services trade between the UK and the EU was underpinned by joint rules, processes and testing. This allowed businesses to trade automatically into the EU. Under the UK-EU TCA, requirements to export to the EU have changed, with non-tariff barriers being introduced across a wide range of sectors.
The guidance on this page represents the information currently available from government. The CBI will update this page as new information is released.
Key challenges for business
How do UK exports to the EU change under the UK-EU TCA?
UK companies which operate in highly regulated industries or frameworks such as consumer goods, construction equipment, pharmaceuticals and aviation, will need the correct EU authorisations to continue supplying goods and services to the EU.
Will accreditation of Conformity Testing Bodies change?
From 1 January 2021, most EU conformity assessment bodies will automatically have their status converted, and will continue to be valid in Great Britain. Read the latest guidance on the UK’s conformity assessment and accreditation policy.
A new UK database – UK Market Conformity Assessment Bodies (UKMCAB) - will replace the EU’s New Approach Notified and Designated Organisations (NANDO) system. The new UK legal framework and the technical requirements for becoming a UK approved body or a UK-recognised RTPO, UI or TAB will be broadly the same as they are now.
UK conformity assessment bodies will no longer be able to carry out mandatory conformity assessment for products being placed on the EU market. The agreement only provides limited scope for mutual recognition of conformity assessments. This means that with the exception of a few instances, goods will have to undergo two sets of conformity assessments rather than one if a business is seeking to place a product on both the UK and EU markets, thereby creating additional costs and complexity for businesses.
However, in specific sectors such as medicines, automotive, organics, wine, and chemicals, the UK and the EU have agreed to streamline conformity assessments.
Current guidance on notified body accreditation can be found via UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service), which covers notifications under both EU and UK regulations.
UK approved bodies will still be applicable to Northern Ireland.
Will companies face barriers for placing new goods on the market?
A range of new measures are set to come into place, however, most firms will have until the end of 2021 to make any changes needed.
CE mark – UKCA mark
The new UKCA mark will replace the CE mark on products in Great Britain, and covers most goods which previously required CE marking.
The CE mark will still be accepted in the UK, on most products, until 1 January 2022. However, firms that have used a UK testing house, will have to ensure products comply with UKCA – unless mutual recognition of testing houses is agreed in the UK-EU talks. There are exceptions to this for medical devices, rail interoperability, construction products and civil explosives.
UKCA will not be recognised on goods sold in the EU, which will continue to require the CE mark. This also applies to products placed on the market in Northern Ireland, which will require either a CE mark, or UK (NI) marking.
UK REACH, the UK’s independent chemicals regulatory framework, starts on 1 January 2021, and the UK will diverge from the EU REACH framework. However, the deal established some cooperation both bilaterally and in relevant international forums on the assessment of hazards and risks of chemicals and the formats for documenting the results of such assessments.
EU REACH registrations held by UK-based companies will carry across directly into UK REACH, legally ‘grandfathering’ the registrations into the new regime. Firms will have to complete this process within two, four, or six years dependent upon their Tonnage Band Deadlines.
UK downstream users (who do not hold an EU REACH registration) currently importing chemicals from an EU/EEA country need to ensure the substances they purchase are covered by a valid UK REACH registration.
Could regulated goods and services be prevented from entering the EU?
While the UK has looked to broadly replicate the current processes for regulated sectors, the EU has offered very little of its own mitigating measures. If regulated goods providers in the UK fail to take necessary steps, there is a risk of goods being refused entry to the EU.
The UK-EU TCA, includes agreements on air transport and aviation safety that came into effect from 1 January when the UK ceased to take part in the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and other EU institutions. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have produced a microsite to advise how the new arrangements will work in practice.
While the agreements involve some elements of continuity, they do not constitute a replication of the UK’s regulatory arrangements as part of the EASA/EU framework. Many sections of the aviation and aerospace industries will face changes after 31 December. For specific aerospace industry advice, you can find more information on the ADS Group Brexit Hub.
Other sectors, including broadcasting, have new guidance about continuity of service from January 2021. As a broadcaster, you will still need to review your current licence to ensure you have the right to broadcast in EU countries.
The Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the ‘country of origin principle’ no longer applies to services under UK jurisdiction broadcast into the EU. However, the European Convention on Transfrontier Television framework continues to apply. Read more about what this means for broadcasting services.
Hauliers and traders need to familiarise themselves with the changes to road haulage movements.fi. Find more information on operator licenses and permits for international road haulage on gov.uk. The Road Haulage Association has guidance for Hauliers and Commercial Drivers Transporting Goods Between Great Britain and the EU.
The UK-EU TCA provides a framework for future electricity trading across interconnectors between the UK and the EU. The agreed model of trading will take time to develop and is not in place from 1 January 2021. Previously developed and communicated alternative arrangements – which will continue to allow trade and mutual support for security of supply – will need to be implemented in the interim, enduring until the agreed trading model can be put in place.