The form of relationship between EU and UK from 1 January 2021 is still unclear


The third round of post-Brexit negotiations between EU and UK took place from 11th to 15th May 2020. The intent of these negotiations is to find an agreement on the cooperation between parties after the end of the transition period set on 31 December 2020. Trade of goods is one of the key discussions.

In the first two rounds of discussions held in March and April 2020, progress was reportedly limited: Britain’s chief negotiator, David Frost, said that the trade deal proposed by the EU would make the UK “bend to EU norms” whereas Michel Barnier, EU chief negotiator, stated that the UK had not got into “real discussion” on the level-playing field. He reiterated the EU's aim is for a free trade agreement, without customs duties, for all goods.

After the meeting, British proposals were made public including a draft for the UK-EU comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. This draft is based on existing trade agreements between EU and countries like United States, Canada or Japan and covers both goods and services.

It proposes limited taxes for imports and exports, the use of origin declaration for the circulation of products, the principle of mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures. This implies the recognition of:

  • international regulations or standards as references in the local regulations as far as possible. If a party does not use them, it should explain for which reasons.
  • conformity assessments done by the other party – and therefore the body who carried it out – or declaration of conformity from the manufacturer/supplier

The proposal provides statements to set up a good cooperation between parties when it comes to information on coming regulations or market surveillance, by the creation of committees.

Even if this proposal covers motor vehicles, the situation of agricultural vehicles, especially agricultural tractors, is not clear on its own.

The product coverage mentioned in the annexes of the draft explicitly mentions machinery for the following topics:

  • electromagnetic compatibility
  • radio and telecommunication terminal equipment
  • machinery
  • outdoor noise
  • pressure equipment

Other safety aspects are listed, such as personal protective equipment and fertilisers.

The UK authorities also published the future UK trade tariffs, with reduced percentage for engine intended for tractors or agricultural machinery.

The EU-27-UK handling of second-hand vehicles would still need clarification.

The last and most important round of negotiations is planned for early June, at the end of which the situation should be clearer: although the transition period could be extended, the UK authorities informed they do not plan on asking for it. There is therefore a fear to get to a no-deal situation where UK would be considered as a third country.

More details on the British proposal are available at the following link: