With the signature of the EU-UK agreement on 30 December 2020, the UK finally left the European Union at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 with a deal. 

The transition period has ended, and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is (provisionally) applied. But the conversation is far from over as Brexit will undoubtably impact all industrial and manufacturing sectors in both the UK and the EU-27.

While a no-deal outcome would have been disastrous, workers and their unions are now worried about the impact of the deal on companies and employment. Many fear an increase in regulatory burden for industry and the resurrection of non-tariff trade barriers, despite substantial provisions regarding the mutual recognition of standards. Furthermore, many open questions remain given that the agreement is a bare-bones trade deal with further negotiations having to take place in a myriad of areas. 

Trade unions are also seriously concerned about the ability of Member States and Parliamentarians to scrutinise the deal, given the time pressure they are under and the length and complexity of the deal.

IndustriAll Europe and its affiliates have been actively campaigning for a future EU/UK deal that puts workers, in both the EU and the UK, first. Regrettably, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not deliver on that goal.

We will now focus on keeping our members informed and updated on the potential impact of the Agreement. Our policy brief  provides an initial overview of the Agreement and looks at how it will likely impact both European industry and its workers. This brief gives a first assessment of the situation of the automotive, aerospace and chemicals/pharmaceutical sectors. This will be followed up with an analysis of further industrial sectors. 

IndustriAll Europe will also seek to ensure that trade unions are closely involved in monitoring the implementation of the Agreement. At EU level, we will request to be closely involved in the many technical working groups and committees that will work out the details. Furthermore, we will work with our members in European Works Councils and SE Works Councils, as jointly advised by the European Trade Union Federations, to request information and consultation on the impact of Brexit on the economic and employment situation in multinational companies.

Brexit is far from over. This is only the beginning. IndustriAll Europe and its member organisations will continue to stand up for our sectors and workers in both the UK and the EU, as well as across wider Europe.

Policy Brief 'EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement': EN, FR, DE

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (press and communication), Elspeth Hathaway (policy adviser)