Following the UK’s formal departure from the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK entered into a period of transition, defined by the Withdrawal Agreement 2019, during which the EU and UK negotiated the terms of their Future Relationship. Agreement was reached just days ahead of the formal end to the transition period, 31 December 2020 at 23:00 GMT, and the resulting Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) entered into force provisionally on 1 January 2021.

On the EU side, the legal basis for ratification required adoption of a Council Decision once the European Parliament (EP) had given its consent.  The EP consent decision and accompanying 8-page resolution were adopted on 28 April 2021 with overwhelming majorities. The resolution underlines that Brexit is a “historic mistake” and that “a third country cannot have the same rights and benefits as a Member State.” The necessary Council decision was then adopted on 30 April. 

The official legal text (under EU law), plus accompanying agreements, was published that same day in the Official Journal of the EU: L149 30.4.2021. Thus, the TCA is ratified, and entered into force on 30 April 2021. 

To assist those seeking to navigate the new EU-UK Treaty, the FRWG has prepared an annotated index of the EU’s official text of the TCA and accompanying annexes.

Since the beginning of 2021, our immediate priority has been to examine the impact of the TCA for our members and their clients, and to assist them in their understanding and adapting to the new arrangements. This is an ongoing process. We continue to update our online advice on key issues as matters become clearer. We also continue to organise events on key questions and participate in those of relevant associations, such as the Bar European Group, the European Circuit etc. Much of the advice below, including the FAQ papers published in the last few months, was drafted to cover all eventualities and thus remains current. Please refer to the papers below and continue to check for updates.   

Looking ahead

We will continue our parallel efforts to secure the Bar’s longstanding Brexit priorities: preserving access to justice through judicial cooperation and maximising opportunities for market access for legal services in support of same.  We will again provide updates on this page as matters progress.

Bar Council Brexit resources