What does the EU Agreement mean for charities?

The new UK/EU agreement will has far-reaching implications for organisations of all sizes, in all sectors, across the country. But what does it mean for charities in 2021? We take a first look.


It will not have escaped notice that at the end of 2020, the UK and the European Union finally agreed to The Trade and Cooperation Agreement as the UK’s transition period came to an end.

And it comes as little surprise that the agreement, which spans more than one thousand pages, does not have charities primarily in mind. There are only a few cursory mentions of civil society, with one notable exception (which we come to later on).

Many of the issues set out in our six requirements are to be addressed at a later date. What will be of interest in the agreement will depend greatly on the sector of your charity.

For instance, those whose primary interest is the environment will be interested in the areas which focus on ‘Multilateral environmental agreements’. Many health charities will focus on the treatment of medical products, and so on.

However, CFG corporate members Cazenove has pointed to a few broader points which will be of interest to the wider sector concerning the treatment of services (or lack thereof), that there are no tariffs and quotas on traded goods, but regulatory barriers have been erected; and that there are tougher rules for other EU trade partners.[EA1]

A new forum for civil society?

One area which will be of interest to wider civil society is Article INST.6 to Article INST.8 of the agreement, which makes reference to Domestic Advisory Groups and a Civil Society Forum which will be consulted on the implementation of the agreement and any supplementing agreements.

This section outlines the parties which would be part of this forum, which includes ‘non-governmental organisations, business and employers' organisations, as well as trade unions, active in economic, sustainable development, social, human rights, environmental and other matters’.

It's worth noting that even with this forum designed for civil society ‘business and employers’ organisations will still have a voice. The forum ‘shall meet at least once a year, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.’

The exact make-up of this forum, and the extent to which it will exert influence, and the mechanisms for doing that remain unclear but CFG will be keeping close track on its development.

Read on to find out what your organisation needs to think about and do now in preparation for post-Brexit.