The first two sessions of the inquiry have been completed, during which a panel of Conservative Parliamentarians took evidence from 9 major business and trade associations on topics including: trade and borders, customs, checks and controls, logistics, retail, and manufacturing.


The Windsor framework has been widely acknowledged as a positive step towards building trust and creating a constructive dialogue between the UK and the EU. It provides the start of an opportunity to address a range of challenges that have emerged in the post-Brexit landscape. In the sessions the following key issues were highlighted:


Challenges of non-tariff barriers and the inconsistent application of rules at EU borders and variance in application of the rules between EU member states continue to be an issue facing UK businesses and exports.


Opportunity for the United Kingdom to be a leader in simplification and digitisation of trade information. Trade is evolving and the UK must adapt accordingly. The UK should aim to be world leading in maximising data exchange, in reducing bureaucracy in trade. Whilst welcoming the UK’s Single Trade Window and the EU’s Single Customs Window, there is a need to ensure the interoperability with EU systems. This is crucial for both complex supply chains and small and medium-sized businesses.


Enhanced cooperation will benefit both UK and EU businesses. It is essential for both parties to engage in regular dialogue and work together to address any emerging issues or challenges. Numerous opportunities exist that both sides should explore including:  the EU safety and security zone, the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin, mutual recognition of qualifications and the reduction of possible Sanitary and Phytosanitary controls. Many of the structures that are in place under the TCA, such as the specialised committees, need to meet more regularly to cover a gap in communication and a lack of coordination between UK and EU counterparts.


Providing certainty on regulatory change. The Retained EU Law bill has caused uncertainty and raised questions about the UK's regulatory environment; making it more difficult to convince international companies that the UK is a reliable place to invest and attract foreign direct investment (FDI).   There are still checks required by the TCA that are yet to be implemented, some of which come into force in October.  The UK Government published the draft Border Target Operating Model in April 2023, which will ultimately lead to additional import controls being introduced. The UK needs to better manage divergence and clearly identify trade-offs where exporters may face the cost of meeting two different standards regimes.


Better information to improve the trading and regulatory relationship with the EU and member states. There needs to be a clear focal point in the government, possibly the Cabinet Office. This focal point should strive to understand variations in how import rules are applied by Member States, the impact of future changes in European regulation and help UK companies build exports. The UK government needs to improve the quality of guidance for exporters and make information more readily available.


By taking a proactive approach to addressing these issues, the UK can build a stronger and more productive partnership with the EU, ultimately benefitting businesses and consumers on both sides.