The UK’s changing relationship with the EU: some frequently asked questions
The United Kingdom has left the European Union. Our national enquiry team regularly receives questions about the implications and the most frequently asked are answered here.
- What is the UK's current relationship with the EU?
- What is the Withdrawal Agreement?
- Will European projects in the UK continue to be funded during and after the transition period?
- UK participation in Horizon 2020 after the transition period
- Negotiations on UK participation in future EU programmes
- What does Brexit mean for CE marking?
- Will I be able to use a UK Notified Body to CE mark my products after the transition period?
- What are the main changes to intellectual property during and after the transition period?
- Will GDPR still apply to the UK during and after the transition period?
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and has entered a transition period until 31 December 2020. During this period the UK is negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU. With the consent of an EU-UK Joint Committee, this period could be extended by one to two years before 1 July 2020. During this transition period the UK is continuing to follow the EU's internal market rules and the trading relationship remains the same.
The UK will leave the single market and the customs union at the end of the transition period.
To prepare your business for the new rules in 2021 use the transition check tool.
The Withdrawal Agreement is a treaty between the EU and the UK that sets out the terms of the UK's departure from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community. This agreement came into force on 1 February 2020 and ensures the transition period while the two parties are negotiating the terms of their future relationship.
The Withdrawl Agreement covers a number of important areas such as the protection of citizens' rights, separation provisions to ensure the smooth transition of existing arrangements, the UK's participation in the economic and legal institutions of the EU during the transition period and the protocols on Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus.
For more information read the New Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on gov.uk
Under the Withdrawal Agreement the UK will continue to participate in EU-funded programmes part of the 2014-2020 EU budget until their closure. In many cases this will mean that funding will continue beyond 2020, which is the case for the Enterprise Europe Network. In addition, UK companies can continue to bid for new grant funding under the current budget.
Please see the government's guidance on EU Funded Programmes under the Withdrawl Agreement.
UK participants in the Horizon 2020 programme will continue to receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual Horizon 2020 projects, including projects finishing after the transition period ends at the end of 2020. During this period UK scientists, researchers and businesses are encouraged to continue to participate in, bid for and lead projects in Horizon 2020 as if the UK remained a member state.
While UK SMEs (small to medium-sized businesses) can continue to apply for the grant only funding route for EIC Accelerator projects under Horizon 2020, access to new blended finance (i.e. equity alongside a grant) is no longer possible. UK organisations are also unable to bid for the InnovFin product range.
A very limited number of UK Horizon 2020 projects involving access to security-related sensitive information restricted for EU member states may be unable to continue in their current form. The European Commission will inform participants if this is the case. Any affected UK grant-holders can get in contact with UKRI at EUGrantsFunding@ukri.org.
The Council of the European Commission has authorised the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the UK and formally nominated the Commission as EU negotiator. UK participation in EU programmes is under negotiation.
The CE marketing system will continue unchanged in the UK during the transition period and there will be little affect on manufacturers until the UK leaves the EU single market (currently scheduled for 31 December 2020).
At the end of the transition period it is expected that the UK will have a national UKCA marketing to replace the CE logo. The CE standards and UKCA standards will be almost identical and both markings will be accepted within the UK market for a limited time. Manufacturers will be notified of when these changes.
The UKCA mark will not be recognised in the EU, so the CE mark must continue to be applied to products for the European market.
UK Notified Bodies have been significantly affected by Brexit and will lose their status as EU Notified Bodies, which means that they will no longer be able to undertake EU conformity assessments after the end of the transition period - unless the UK and EU considers a Mutual Recognition Agreement.
if British manufacturers want to have an EU conformity assessment in order to export their products to the EU after the transition period, they can use Notified Bodies that are recognised in the EU. If appropriate, they can use a self-declaration option under the relevant legislation to perform the assessment themselves. Currently, UK Notified Bodies are transferring certificates and their supporting data to EU Notified Bodies are required in the Withdrawl Agreement.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills will take over the EU's functions in relation to UK Notified Bodies.
During the transition period, EU law will continue to apply within the UK as to any other EU member state. There will be no disruption to Intellectual Property Office (IPO) services and no changes to the UK Intellectual Property system. The IPO will covert almost 1.4 million EU trademarks and 700,000 EU designs to comparable UK rights by the end of the transition period, and these rights will come into effect on 1 January 2021.
The Withdrawl Agreement ensures continued protection of existing EU-level IP rights in the UK after the end of the transition period. For further information see Intellectual property and the transition period.
During the transition period, GDPR regulations still apply to the UK. At the end of the transition period, the EU GDPR rules will no longer apply; however, the government intends to incorporate GDPR into UK data protection law by the end of the transition period.
GDPR may still apply to your business if you operate in Europe, including the monitoring of users in Europe. GDPR will will apply to any organisation in the EU that sends data to UK companies.