Brexit ja ulkoministeriö. Kuva: Pixabay.

Brexit and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs

31.01.2019

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs monitors Britain’s exit from the EU. Here you’ll find information on the impact of Brexit for citizens and businesses.


Brexit

With the completion of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) on 1 January 2021 many things changed. The changes brought by Brexit will affect people in Finland and also businesses operating in Finland which trade with the UK. The new relationship between the EU and the UK will be significantly more distant than before. 

EU-UK negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and complementary agreements on security of classified information and nuclear cooperation were concluded on 24 December 2020. The EU countries decided on 29 December 2020 that the three agreements could be applied provisionally from 1 January 2021. This prevented a ‘no-deal’ scenario between the EU and the UK after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

The provisional application of the agreements is set to end on 30 April 2021 at the latest. The intention is that by that time the European Parliament will have given its consent to the agreements. Following this, the Council of the European Union, i.e. the Member States, will adopt a formal decision on the approval of the agreements and they will then formally enter into force.  

The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, which entered into force on 1 February 2020, remains in place and will apply alongside the new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and any agreements made at a later date. The Withdrawal Agreement protects EU and UK citizens’ rights and includes agreement on the honouring of financial obligations undertaken by the UK while it was a member of the EU, and on border arrangements between Ireland and Northern Ireland respecting the peace process on the island of Ireland.

Up-to-date information on the TCA is available on the European Commission’s website

 Brexit coordination in Finland

Each Ministry is responsible for dealing with those aspects of Brexit that are relevant to its own sphere of activities. Responsibility for the overall coordination of these efforts lies with the Prime Minister’s Office, whose website provides comprehensive information about Brexit organised by topic. 

Within the areas of responsibility of the Foreign Ministry and the rest of its administrative branch, Brexit is relevant to trade policy, entry services, foreign and security policy, and development policy. The Ministry also has general responsibility for bilateral relations between Finland and the United Kingdom.

Trade policy: More paperwork for importers and exporters

The section on trade in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is extensive and covers areas  typical to EU free trade agreements, such as trade in goods and services, investment and public procurement. The TCA is comprehensive as a trade agreement and brings certainty, but it is no substitute for the single market. The UK’s departure from the EU’s single market and Customs Union means that, in spite of the TCA, importers, exporters and investors are faced with barriers to trade, and additional formalities and bureaucracy.

Effects on Finnish and UK citizens: Free movement ceased

The free movement of EU citizens between the EU countries and the United Kingdom ceased when the UK withdrew from the EU’s single market on 31 December 2020.  The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement safeguards the rights of EU citizens who moved to the UK and, correspondingly, UK citizens who moved to the EU before 31 December 2020.  The TCA includes agreement on visa-free travel and stay in the UK and the EU. Currently, UK citizens can stay in the Schengen Area without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. EU citizens may travel to the United Kingdom and stay for up to six months without a visa. To stay longer than this or to work may require a residence or work permit.

Foreign and security policy: Cooperation continues

The new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not include cooperation on foreign and security policy, as the UK did not wish to negotiate such a relationship within the agreement.

For Finland, the United Kingdom will remain a close partner, and as part of the EU, Finland will work to build a new relationship with the UK. Finland considers it important that EU-UK cooperation on foreign and security policy and on defence should continue to be as close as possible. Alongside EU-level contacts, Finland will also strengthen bilateral relationships.

Development policy: Cooperation to continue with UK as external donor

The EU’s negotiating text included initiatives on development policy cooperation as part of cooperation on external relations, but the negotiation process did not, in the end, cover this field. Nevertheless, cooperation with the UK – now an external donor – will continue, because the EU coordinates its own development cooperation with external donors. However, the cooperation will be more distant due to the UK’s external donor status.

Brexit information on other websites: