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The EU-UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement: Key Elements

(S,P) The EU-UK TCA is essential for zero duty trade. Find out what's in it.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded between the EU and the UK sets out preferential arrangements in areas such as trade in goods and in services, digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, aviation and road transport, energy, fisheries, social security coordination, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, thematic cooperation and participation in EU programmes. It is underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field and respect for fundamental rights.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement was signed on 30 December 2020, was applied provisionally as of 1 January 2021 and entered into force on 1 May 2021.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement consists of

  • a Free Trade Agreement, with ambitious cooperation on economic, social, environmental and fisheries issues,

  • a close partnership on citizens’ security,

  • an overarching governance framework.

Foreign policy, external security and defence cooperation is not covered by the Agreement as the UK did not want to negotiate this matter. Since January 2021, there is therefore no framework in place between the UK and the EU to develop and coordinate joint responses to foreign policy challenges, for instance the imposition of sanctions on third country nationals or economies.

In addition, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not cover any decisions relating to equivalences for financial services, the adequacy of the UK data protection regime, or the assessment of the UK’s sanitary and phytosanitary regime for the purpose of listing it as a third country allowed to export food products to the EU. Indeed, these are unilateral decisions of the EU and are not subject to negotiation.

What's covered?

  • The agreement covers not just trade in goods and services, but also a broad range of other areas in the EU's interest, such as investment, competition, state aid, tax transparency, air and road transport, energy and sustainability, fisheries, data protection, and social security coordination.

  • It provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin.

What about the level playing field?

  • Both parties have committed to ensuring a robust level playing field by maintaining high levels of protection in areas such as environmental protection, the fight against climate change and carbon pricing, social and labour rights, tax transparency and State aid, with effective, domestic enforcement, a binding dispute settlement mechanism and the possibility for both parties to take remedial measures.

Big Changes Single Market vs EU TCA

While it will by no means match the level of economic integration that existed while the UK was an EU Member State, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement goes beyond traditional free trade agreements and provides a solid basis for preserving our longstanding friendship and cooperation.

See this comparison to show how the agreement does not replicate the same level of access to the EU Single Market that Member States hold.

Circle: specific conditions related to EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

Key Achievements for goods-trading business

100% tariff liberalisation

  • The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to an unprecedented 100% tariff liberalization.

  • The Agreement establishes zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, where goods meet the relevant rules of origin.

  • This means there will be no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods we produce between the UK and the EU. This is the first time the EU has agreed to a zero tariff zero quotas deal with any other trading partner.

  • The UK and EU have agreed on rules of origin Chapter which contains modern and appropriate rules of origin ensuring that only ‘originating’ goods are able to benefit from the liberalized market access arrangements agreed in the TCA, while reflecting the requirements of UK and EU industry.

  • The Chapter also provides for full bilateral cumulation (cumulation of both materials and processing) between the UK and the EU, allowing EU inputs and processing to be counted as UK input in UK products exported to the EU and vice versa. The ambitious arrangements include facilitations on average pricing, accounting segregation for certain products, as well as all materials, and tolerance by value. The rules are also supported by predictable and low-cost administrative arrangements for proving origin.

  • There is a protocol on mutual administrative assistance on customs matters.

  • Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs). There will be mutual recognition of the Parties’ respective Authorised Economic Operator security and safety schemes. As a result, AEOs assessed and recognised under either the UK or EU scheme will face fewer controls relating to safety and security when moving their goods between the UK and the EU, facilitating trade and flow at the border.


7 Parts

The Agreement is structured into 7 Parts:

  • Part 1 covers the common and institutional provisions in the Agreement;

  • Part 2 covers trade and other economic aspects of the relationship, such as aviation, energy, road transport, and social security;

  • Part 3 covers cooperation on law enforcement and criminal justice;

  • Part 4 covers so-called “thematic” issues, notably health collaboration;

  • Part 5 covers participation in EU Programmes, principally scientific collaboration through Horizon;

  • Part 6 covers dispute settlement;

  • Part 7 sets out final provisions.

Final Version

CELEX_22021A0430(01)_EN_TXT EU-UK TCA
Download PDF • 12.91MB


Questions And Answers TCA
Download PDF • 241KB

Top 10 documents for download

1. EU Press Release

Download • 56KB

2. The timeline from Referendum to the new Partnership Agreement

Download • 306KB

3. The infographic (summarizing the Agreement):

Download • 259KB

4. The brochure explaining the new relationship EU/UK.

Download • 270KB

5. Overview of consequences and benefits

Download • 266KB

6. Big changes are still to come - Comparison

Download P • 105KB

7. Summary by UK government of the UK-EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement

Download • 471KB

8. Speech by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister's statement on EU negotia
Download • 436KB

9. Speech by Michel Barnier

Download • 44KB

10. Speech by Ursula von der Leyen - EU Commission

Download • 40KB


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