Published 06 Jan 2021
EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)
The EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is a trade agreement signed on 30 December 2020, between the European Union (EU), the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the United Kingdom (UK). It has been applied provisionally since January 1, 2021 after the end of the Brexit transition period.
The agreement that governs the relationship between the EU and the UK after Brexit was concluded after eight months of negotiations.It provides for free trade in goods and limited mutual market access in services, as well as for cooperation mechanisms in a range of policy areas, transitional provisions about EU access to UK fisheries, and UK participation in some EU programs.
The TCA awaits ratification by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union and legal revision before it formally comes into effect. The UK Parliament ratified the TCA on 30 December 2020and the European Parliament will consider the draft in early 2021.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said: “It was worth fighting for this deal because we now have a fair and balanced agreement with the UK, which will protect our European interests, ensure fair competition, and provide much needed predictability for our fishing communities. Finally, we can leave Brexit behind us and look to the future. Europe is now moving on.”
The Context of the Agreement
The Free Trade Agreement is one of the three main branches of the TCA. It represents a new economic and social partnership with the United Kingdom.
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.
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 labor 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.
The EU and the UK agreed on a new framework for the joint management of fish stocks in EU and UK waters. The UK will be able to further develop British fishing activities, while the activities and livelihoods of European fishing communities will be safeguarded, and natural resources preserved.
On transport, the agreement provides for continued and sustainable air, road, rail and maritime connectivity, though market access falls below what the Single Market offers. It includes provisions to ensure that competition between EU and UK operators takes place on a level playing field, so that passenger rights, workers' rights and transport safety are not undermined.
On energy, the agreement provides a new model for trading and interconnectivity, with guarantees for open and fair competition, including on safety standards for offshore, and production of renewable energy.
On social security coordination, the agreement aims at ensuring a number of rights of EU citizens and UK nationals. This concerns EU citizens working in, travelling or moving to the UK and to UK nationals working in, travelling or moving to the EU after 1st January 2021.
Finally, the agreement enables the UK's continued participation in a number of flagship EU programs for the period 2021-2027 (subject to a financial contribution by the UK to the EU budget), such as Horizon Europe.
This agreement underlines the fact that a cooperation between the UK and the EU is necessary. Although they might have ended a political unity the need for economic cooperation is clear.