The impacts of Brexit on business and industry

Current situation

With the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020, a transition period began until the end of 2020. During the transition period, the current rules will continue to be in place as if the UK were still a member of the EU. The EU and the UK will negotiate their future relationship during 2020. Due to the tight negotiation schedule, some sectors may fall outside the scope of the agreement starting on 1 January 2021. Businesses in particular should be prepared for this possibility.

Withdrawal agreement and transition period

The EU–UK withdrawal agreement entered into force on 1 February 2020. The withdrawal agreement will dismantle all cooperation based on the UK’s EU membership in an orderly manner. The withdrawal agreement does not lay down provisions on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

The withdrawal agreement provides for a transition period until the end of 2020, during which the relationship between the EU and the UK will continue under the EU’s current rules, as if the UK were still a member of the EU. This means, for instance, that the UK will comply with single market regulation applicable in the EU. The only significant exception is that, during the transition period, the UK will no longer participate in EU decision-making or in the activities of EU bodies.

The withdrawal agreement will also, among other things, safeguard the residence, employment and social security rights of EU citizens residing in the UK and UK citizens residing in the EU under EU law for life if they have settled in the UK or the EU before 1 January 2021. Their status and rights will be safeguarded as they were under the key EU legislation as of 31 December 2020. The free movement of EU and UK citizens moving to each other's territory after 31 December 2020 will end and restrictions will be placed on their entry and rights.

Key provisions relevant for the administrative branch of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment are those included in part three of the agreement concerning goods placed on the market. For companies, the practical effect of these provisions is that goods placed on the market legally in the EU or the UK by the end of the transition period may still move freely. Goods may still be delivered to end-users and put into service as if the UK were still a member of the EU. In addition, the withdrawal agreement contains provisions on market surveillance and the exchange of information related to the product conformity assessment, approval and authorisation procedures at the end of the transition period.

Future relationship between the EU and the UK

The EU and the UK will negotiate their future relationship during 2020. The EU and the UK are to agree on matters such as cooperation arrangements regarding future trade relations and a level competitive playing field. The aim is for the future relationship to enter into force once the transition period is over on 1 January 2021. Further information on the future relationship will be provided later as the negotiations proceed.

Due to the tight negotiation schedule, some sectors may fall outside the scope of the agreement starting on 1 January 2021, or they may have to comply with WTO rules. Businesses in particular should be prepared for this possibility.

Further information on the withdrawal agreement, the transition period and the future relationship is available on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office

Contact person at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Johanna Rihto-Kekkonen, tel. +358 295 047 121