Agreement on the Trade and Cooperation Argument (TCA)
On 24 December 2020 – just in time before the end of the transition period –, the European Union and the United Kingdom were able to agree on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“TCA”), thus preventing the United Kingdom from being subject to third-country rules. The agreement entered into force provisionally on 1 January 2021. After the necessary approval by the European Parliament the treaty will enter into force on a regular basis.
The agreement regulates and encompasses a wide range of subjects, including
- trade in goods and services,
- digital trade,
- the protection of intellectual property,
- public procurement,
- air and road transportation,
- social security,
- law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters,
- thematic cooperation, and
- the possibility to participate in a number of EU flagship programs between 2021 and 2027.
The agreement is one of the most extensive international agreements ever concluded by the European Union with another country. In particular, it provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas. However, those benefits only apply to goods originating from the European Union or the United Kingdom, respectively. In many cases, the country of origin will have to be verified through certain forms and certificates that have to be presented at the borders.
As part of the controversial negotiating topic of the level playing field, the parties agreed on extensive provisions regarding environmental and climate protection, social and employee rights, tax transparency and state aid.
In case a party violates certain provisions of the agreement, parts of the treaty may be suspended or a party may impose punitive tariffs.
In the event of disputes arising out of the interpretation of the agreement or its provisions, the TCA provides for a dispute resolution procedure, including a multi-stage process with ad hoc arbitration and compensation options.
The United Kingdom continues to participate in a number of selected EU programs, including Horizon Europe, Euratom and Copernicus. There will be no further participation in the Erasmus + program.
Regarding the topic of fisheries, the parties agreed as follows: Within the next five and a half years, EU fishing quotas will be gradually reduced by 25%. Thereafter, quotas will be renegotiated annually.
Topics not regulated by the TCA
The agreement does not contain any provisions regarding
- foreign and security policy issues,
- the recognition of professional qualifications and
- financial services.
The European Union will provide a "Brexit Adjustment Reserve", comprising 5 billion Euro. This reserve is intended to mitigate some of the economic consequences, including, but not limited to, the losses on the sector fisheries, and to provide an amount for each member state based on the economic impact.