Operating in the EU after Brexit

When the UK leaves the EU, the way businesses both offer services in the EU and operate will change.

Information is available to help you plan for changes to areas such as accounting and auditing, civil, criminal and judicial cooperation, competition, consumer rights, international participation and company mergers.

This will affect your business if it:

  • has branches in the EU
  • operates in the financial services sector within the EU
  • sells goods to a country in the EU
  • is planning a merger with an EU company after the UK leaves the EU

What your business needs to do now

  1. Understand the changes and prepare for them. Read the detailed guidance.
  2. Be aware of the domestic consumer rights of the country in which you are selling, if you sell to EU countries.
  3. If you have a nominated person based in the UK, you will need a new authorised representative in an EU member state for that person to carry out tasks on their behalf within the EU.
  4. If your business trades exclusively with the EU, you will need to register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, a unique ID code used to track and register customs information in the EU.
  5. If you are a UK audit firm, you must apply for registration as third country auditors in any member state whose regulated markets trade securities are issued by their UK audit clients. The deadline for registration will be set by the relevant EEA audit competent authority.
  6. You need to contact the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the European Council if your business is planning a merger that will take place or be implemented after the UK has left the EU.
  7. Consider whether you need separate professional advice on how these arrangements could affect your business model or operations in the EU. The information here is for guidance only.
  8. Stay updated. Some of these requirements may change depending on the terms on which the UK leaves the EU. Revisit this page or sign up to email alerts to stay up to date.

What your business should consider

If you are a UK company listed on an EU market, you may need to provide extra assurances that your accounts meet the International Financing Reporting Standards.

An individual’s UK audit qualification may no longer be recognised by an EU country. Please see the guidance on accounting and auditing for more information.

Consumers may no longer have the right to use Alternative Dispute Resolution organisations to resolve cross-border disputes.

UK citizens may face restrictions on their ability to own, manage or direct a company, registered in the EU. This depends on the sector and EU country the company is operating in. More detailed information of the requirements of EU member states can be found on the European e-Justice Portal.

What will change if there is no deal

Your business will no longer be able to merge using the EU directive on mergers within the EU.

Your business will need to be aware of existing rules that govern our cross border judicial relationship globally – see the guidance on handling civil legal cases that involve EU countries if there’s no Brexit deal for more detailed information.

Your business may need to notify both the UK and the EU of future mergers and both may investigate breaches of antitrust.

Your business needs to be aware of the domestic consumer rights of the country it sells to and, that they and consumers will no longer be able to access and use the Online Dispute Resolution platform.

If your business is a UK company and limited liability partnership with central administration or principal place of business in certain EU countries you may no longer have your limited liability recognised.

If you’re a UK business with a branch operating in the EU you will become a third country business and will need to comply with specific accounting and reporting requirements for such businesses in the country they operate in.

In a no deal scenario, the majority of the Insolvency Regulation, which covers jurisdictional rules, applicable law and recognition of cross-border insolvency proceedings, would be repealed throughout the UK.

What will stay the same if there is no deal

Corporate reporting will be largely unchanged – aside from minor changes to reflect the fact that the EU is no longer a member state.

International agreements, such as The Hague Conventions, will still apply, however the UK will have to re-enter.

Businesses and individuals can generally continue to use the same rules as they do now to determine which law would apply in cross-border disputes. This is because all parts of the UK will retain the Rome I and Rome II rules on applicable law in contractual and non-contractual matters, which generally do not rely on reciprocity to operate.

Further information

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development provides links to the Service Trade Restrictiveness Index.

Find out more about CMA’s role after Brexit.

Find out more about providing services abroad.

See the Hague Conventions.

Published 1 February 2019

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