Check which reservations are relevant to UK businesses selling services to customers in EU member states.
In the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), there are agreed rules on international investment and trade in services, known as core commitments. These rules allow firms from each party to sell services to, and invest in, the other party, without discrimination.
Reservations are areas where countries have reserved the right not to follow the core commitments. Where a reservation applies, countries may apply laws that would otherwise breach the commitments – for example, by discriminating against foreign firms or by blocking investment.
For EU reservations, some are specific to one Member State, whilst others are EU-wide.
Selling or providing services to the EU is now different for UK businesses, particularly those that are subject to reservations. You should check the reservations and national regulations of the country where you are selling services.
If in doubt, you should always seek professional advice and/or contact the government of the country where you operate or plan to operate for more information.
The interactive tool can be used to find reservations that are EU-wide or specific to a Member State. You can also find reservations by sector.
Further guidance on using the tool is provided in the document.
In trade agreements, each country agrees to overarching rules covering services and investment, called ‘core commitments’. These include:
- allowing businesses from the other country to invest or operate in their market
- treating them the same as local businesses when doing so
The reservations are areas where countries reserve the right not to act according to these core commitments. This can be in relation to specified policy areas, kinds of businesses or modes of operation. How countries choose to exercise the rights they have reserved can vary a lot in practice. Businesses should therefore always check the local rules in their target markets.
The schedules for reservations are found in Annexes I and II of the TCA.
Reservations in Annex I set out the exceptions and limitations required for laws that were in force when the TCA was signed (30 December 2020).
For example, Spanish law states that statutory auditors in Spain must be nationals of a Member State. The law is listed in Annex I and the reservation describes how the law does not conform to the core commitments.
Reservations in Annex II allow each party to introduce new discriminatory or trade restrictive laws or measures in future that do not conform to the core commitments, but only in relation to the areas specified in the Annex.
For example, the EU has reserved the right to adopt or maintain any measure regarding educational services which receive public funding, or State support, in any form. This allows the EU to introduce new laws and regulations that contravene the core commitments, but only regarding these educational services.