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What your business needs to know about the Brexit deal

Posted: 17th January 2021

Negotiations between the UK and EU on our post-Brexit transition period trading relationship with the EU from 1st January 2021 concluded on 24th December 2020 with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The UK’s membership of the European Union ended on 31st January 2020; the end of the transition period saw the UK’s exit from the EU’s single market and customs union; and the start of a new relationship with the EU.

A number of significant legal and practical changes were inevitable irrespective of the outcome of the protracted negotiations, however, it is only now that the negotiations concluded that it is possible to seek to fully understand the details and implications.

The “deal” is a “free trade agreement” for World Trade Organisation rule purposes, however, it is unique – in that normally such agreements result in a lowering of costs and relaxation of restrictions – whereas, due to it coming into effect at the expiry of the transition period, on this occasion the net effect is that restrictions and cost are introduced (albeit they are less than would have been the case without the agreement).

The Agreement itself runs to 1246 pages plus ancillary documents. Much of the “no tariffs and no trade barrier” headline outcomes are not as straight forward as initial official summaries might suggest, as they are caveated. Additionally, although the UK chose not to delay approval, the agreement is provisional pending EU member scrutiny – which will run until the end of February.

So, the devil really is in the detail … and the accompanying red tape.

We’re updating and supplementing the Brexit support materials on our Business Hub. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe here to be the first to hear about our new briefings.

If you have any Brexit or international trade questions in the meantime please contact our Brexit Lead, Neil Amner or otherwise our topic area experts as follows:

We’re here to help you and your business through challenging times. That’s why we set up our online law clinics. If you require advice on how any of these elements of the Brexit deal will affect your business, your first phone or video call with one of our experts will be free of charge.

Neil Amner

Director / Business Resilience Group Lead


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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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