Movement of Goods Under the TCA

University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 31/2021

Due in 'Global Policy' eds. U. Staiger & R Schuetze (Forthcoming)

19 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2021

See all articles by Catherine Barnard

Catherine Barnard

University of Cambridge

Emilija Leinarte

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2021


The most comprehensive part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) concluded between the EU and the UK concerned the movement of goods. The aim of this article is to consider the approach taken by the TCA to trade of goods when considered in the light of the EU internal market regime. We argue that it would be entirely wrong to consider the provisions in the TCA as free movement of goods ‘minus’. Rather, with the exception of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP), which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), not the TCA, the approach to the movement of goods has much more in common with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) provisions on goods, on which the TCA draws heavily, than EU law. From a political perspective, this shift to a ‘WTO plus’ approach is because the UK government considered that the Brexit vote gave a green light for a total break with the EU’s rules. From a legal perspective, the movement of goods between the UK and the EU is covered by the Heading on Trade, which is part of a Free Trade Agreement, not part of the Single Market, with all the consequences which flow from this shift.

The chapter is structured as follows. Section 2 will consider the UK’s approach to negotiating its new trading relationship. Section 2 will Section 3 will examine the TCA’s approach to the trade in goods, focusing on four key elements of the goods regime under the TCA: (i) the principle of non-discrimination; (ii) the significance of a ‘0, 0’ agreement; (iii) regulatory barriers to trade; and (iv) (absence of) mutual recognition. Section 3 will address the unique case of Northern Ireland. Section 4 concludes.

Keywords: Trade and Cooperation Agreement, TCA, EU, European Union, Brexit, Northern Ireland Protocol, NIP, Free movement, Movement of goods, Free movement of goods, Withdrawal Agreement, WA, Trade, Tariff

Suggested Citation

Barnard, Catherine and Leinarte, Emilija, Movement of Goods Under the TCA (November 1, 2021). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 31/2021, Due in 'Global Policy' eds. U. Staiger & R Schuetze (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: or

Catherine Barnard (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

Emilija Leinarte

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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