Reviewed in September 2020. Content will be updated as negotiations develop.
What is changing?
Northern Ireland will leave the European Union single market in services on 1 January 2021 together with the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK single market in services. The Northern Ireland Protocol which provides for special treatment for trade in goods in Northern Ireland does not apply to services.
The EU UK negotiations on a future relationship agreement include proposals for some guarantees and arrangements in relation to providing services cross-border from the UK into Ireland and from Ireland into the UK. Regardless of whether or not there is an EU UK future relationship agreement before the end of 2020, there will be changes to some of the guarantees and rules that apply at present in relation to providing services cross-border into the EU.
If there is no agreement, the WTO agreement on services (GATS) will apply to trade in services cross-border from the UK into Ireland and the rest of the EU. If there is an agreement it will build on the GATS agreement and is likely to cover most sectors and methods of doing business. In either event, one important effect is that the strong EU single market guarantees will be replaced by looser and less easily enforceable rules. See the FAQ sections of this website.
The UK Government has provided detailed guidance notes on selling services to the EU from 1 January 2021 – click here for more information.
The Government has also provided detailed guidance on the new rules and considerations that might arise in selling services into each EU state, on a country by country basis here. For example, the guidance for Ireland and France.
Businesses should consult the guidance in relation to each particular market into which they provide services.
The Irish Government published its updated Brexit Readiness Action Plan in September 2020 which contains useful and detailed information for Northern Ireland businesses which provide services cross-border into or in Ireland.
It all comes back to planning! Anticipating the risks and pitfalls unique to your business can avoid or at least mitigate unknown problems. In most cases, something can be done. Although all the consequences of Brexit cannot be foreseen many of the direct and obvious impacts can be anticipated and managed.