Press release – immediate  




  • Inquiry, launched by the Conservative European Forum, aims to identify enterprise-led, practical improvements to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement

  • Investigation will collect evidence from UK business and NGOs about their experiences working with the current version of the deal 

  • CEF Chair and former-Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington said: "With the formal review of the current deal due in 2025/26 and elections approaching for both Westminster and the European Parliament, there is no time to waste"

  • Stephen Hammond MP says report will lead to ‘positive steps forward’ in UK-EU relations

  • A substantive inquiry into the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is pledging ‘practical’ solutions to post-Brexit challenges around trade, security and defence.


The investigation, launched today by the Conservative European Forum (CEF), promises to be the most comprehensive probe into the functioning of the TCA.


Three years after the TCA was agreed – and with increasing evidence available – it is widely acknowledged that the UK-EU partnership requires improvement. 


Addressing Conservative MPs, leading industry representatives and the diplomatic community, CEF Chair Sir David Lidington said:


‘The last few years have been deeply frustrating for all of us who believe that it is in our country’s economic and geo-political interest to rebuild our partnership with the rest of democratic Europe.


‘It should be possible for both Remainers and Leavers from 2016 to work together to identify practical measures to improve the relationship between the United Kingdom and the rest of democratic Europe, including the institutions of the European Union.


‘The first TCA review, due in 2025/26, presents an excellent opportunity to improve on the current relationship and begin to address the problems that we face.’


The CEF investigation will gather evidence via hearings and interviews to document the impacts of the present UK-EU relationship and identify solutions to pressing problems. This will culminate in a report to the Government at the end of the year.


Speaking alongside Sir David, CEF Deputy Chair Stephen Hammond MP said:


‘Economic growth, national security and individual freedom require a cooperative and consistent framework with our neighbours. Our timeline is to ensure that this case is clear ahead of the next general election and before the TCA review in 2025/26.


‘CEF will build a detailed case that moves beyond simple headlines and sparks debate within the Conservative Party and across the broader political landscape. 


‘It is my hope and expectation that the TCA review and the work of our inquiry will be positive steps forward in UK-EU relations.’


The report’s objective is to provide enterprise-led, actionable and practical solutions to address the concerns faced by many businesses and individuals who have been negatively affected by the existing arrangements. It will identify the greatest opportunities and aim to build consensus and cooperation to reform and reduce barriers.


One of the MPs backing the inquiry, former First Secretary of State Rt Hon Damian Green, said:


“In the post-Brexit world, it is hugely in Britain’s interests to develop positive relationships with the countries of the EU. This inquiry is therefore very welcome as a way to explore how best to do this.”