A new relationship between the EU and the UK


When the UK left the EU at midnight on 1 February 2020, a transition period running until the end of the year began. It is envisioned that at the end of transition period, the future relationship between the EU and the UK will take effect.

Minister for EU Affairs Hans Dahlgren and Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs Anna Hallberg  standing next to each other.
Minister for EU Affairs Hans Dahlgren and Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs Anna Hallberg. Photo: Ninni Andersson/Government Offices

Basis for the negotiation

The basis for negotiations is the Political Declaration agreed by the parties in October 2019. In view of this, the EU has adopted negotiation directives for Chief Negotiator Barnier, and the UK Government has presented its approach to the negotiations in a policy paper. 

Declaration on the future relationship 

The Political Declaration, which is not legally binding, sets out the parties’ expectations for the future relationship. It lays the foundations for an ambitious, broad and deep partnership covering trade, economic cooperation and security. It consists of 141 points divided into six main areas:

1. Introduction: states the basic objectives etc.

2. Initial provisions: establishes the core values and areas of shared interest etc. that are to form the basis of the relationship.

3. Economic partnership: set out ambitions in a number of areas: goods, services and investment, financial services, digital, capital movements and payments, intellectual property, public procurement, mobility, transport, energy, fishing opportunities, global cooperation, and a level playing field for open and fair competition.

4. Security partnership: deals with ambitions for cooperation on internal and external security.

5. Institutional and other horizontal arrangements: specifies the structure for the relations and the main ingredients of a future dispute settlement mechanism.

6. Forward process: the aim is for the future relationship to be in place by the end of 2020.

The Political Declaration is available here:

Political Declaration on the future relationship on the EUR-lex website

The EU’s negotiating directives

On 25 February, the General Affairs Council adopted the EU’s directives for the negotiation of a new partnership with the UK. The directives define the scope and terms of the partnership the EU seeks with the UK and follow the Political Declaration. The directives are comprehensive and cover all areas of interest to the negotiations, including trade and economic cooperation, internal and external security and thematic cooperation. They consist of 172 points, divided into seven parts.

- Part I contains initial provisions on the shared values on which the partnership should be based, and on data protection adequacy decisions.

- Part II concerns the economic partnership, with a focus on a free trade agreement for goods and services, financial services, data flows, intellectual property rights and public procurement. This part also sets out the directives for fisheries, mobility and social security coordination, transport, and for a level playing field for open and fair competition in the areas of state aid, environmental standards, employment standards and taxation.

- Part III deals with the security partnership, both internal and external, and focuses on functioning and close forms of cooperation.

- Part IV contains the structure for the supervision of the agreement and for dispute settlement mechanisms. 

- The three final parts deal with procedural issues.

The EU’s negotiating directives are available here:

The EU’s negotiating directives for the future partnership with the UK on the Council website

The UK’s approach to negotiations

On 27 February, the UK Government published its approach for the negotiations on the future relationship with the EU. The policy paper on the UK’s approach to negotiations is available here:

The UK Government' s approach to negotiations for a new relationship on its website

Negotiations on a new relationship

Framework for negotiations

The European Commission, with a team lead by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, negotiates with the UK on behalf of the EU. The parties have agreed on terms of reference on the UK-EU future relationship negotiations which state that the negotiations are to take place in the following 11 negotiation groups:

1.       Trade in Goods

2.       Trade in Services and Investment and other issues

3.       Level Playing Field for open and fair competition

4.       Transport

5.       Energy and Civil Nuclear Cooperation

6.       Fisheries

7.       Mobility and Social Security Coordination

8.       Law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

9.       Thematic Cooperation

10.     Participation in Union Programmes

11.     Horizontal arrangements and governance

The terms of reference also set out the planned negotiation rounds up to the summer. However, the schedule has been revised as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.

The terms of reference are available on the Commission website 

The Commission’s draft text of the agreement on the new partnership

The Commission has prepared and published an initial negotiating document in the form of a draft text of the agreement on the new partnership, with a separate part on Foreign Policy, Security and Defence. The draft agreement is based on the directives given by the Member States to the Commission on 25 February.

The draft agreement is available here:

Draft text of the Agreement on the New Partnership with the United Kingdom on the Commission website

Foreign Policy, Security and Defence part of the Draft text of the Agreement on the New Partnership with the United Kingdom on the Commission website

The UK Government’s draft legal texts

The UK Government has also published draft agreement texts for a new relationship. These consist of 12 separate agreement texts in the following areas:

  • Trade
  • Fisheries
  • Air transport and civil aviation safety
  • Energy
  • Social security coordination
  • Civil nuclear energy
  • Law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
  • Readmission of people residing without authorisation 

The UK draft agreements are available here:
“Draft agreements for a new relationship on the UK Government website”