The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect on 1 January 2021. The UK services sector accounts for nearly 80% of the UK’s GDP and employs 4 in 5 workers across the country. The UK is the world’s second largest exporter of services and the EU is the largest recipient – equivalent to 40% of the UK’s total services exports. The UK and the EU agreed to commitments on market access for services in the TCA. However, there are a substantial number of exemptions in the annex of the agreement and the level of access for UK services firms will vary sector by sector and from one-member state to another.
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
What does the UK-EU TCA mean for trading services between the UK to the EU?
UK services businesses exporting to the EU need to consider a range of changes, from the rights to establish in the EU, professional qualifications, to the free flow of data and to the movement of people. Some sectors, which are subject to sector-specific rules, will also see changes to how they access the EU market for some of their services from the UK.
For businesses that import services from the EU, there should not be significant immediate changes – except in the case of some financial services. Find out more information for the financial services sector on our transition hub page.
How will UK businesses setting up a presence in the EU be affected?
If you have a UK business, you might face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. You should be prepared for: additional requirements on the nationality or residency of senior managers or directors and or limits on the amount of equity that can be held by non-nationals. Find out more information on establishing and structuring your business.
How will the UK-EU TCA impact individuals with professional qualifications?
From 1 January, new professional qualifications are no longer automatically recognised by Member State authorities. This means UK professionals will have to comply with professional qualification requirements in each EU member state they want to sell their services in.
The TCA provides a route for mutual recognition to be agreed in the future through the Partnership Council, but there is no guarantee that arrangements will be agreed.
It is worth noting the Withdrawal Agreement guarantees continued mutual recognition for those nationals who have already had their qualifications recognised prior to 31 December 2020.
You’ll need to have your UK professional qualification officially recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It will need to be recognised by the appropriate regulator for your profession in each country where you intend to work. You’ll need to do this even if you’re providing temporary or occasional professional services.
Until mutual recognition agreements have been put in place, UK-qualified professionals should continue following GOV.UK advice on using their qualifications in an EU member state.
How will business travel change from 1 January?
As part of the UK-EU TCA, the UK and the EU have agreed provisions to facilitate the movement of business travellers, including those who supply services.
Employers should familiarise themselves with business visitor rules of the UK and relevant EU27 countries. The UK government has produced travel to work guides for business travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Read more general information about business travel for trade in services.
For more information please visit the People page on the CBI Transition Hub.