Effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU within the mandate of the Ministry of Justice
With the completion of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) on 1 January 2021 many things changed. The changes brought on by Brexit will have an impact on Finnish people and companies operating in Finland. The relationship between the EU and the UK will be significantly more distant than before.
On Christmas Eve, 24 December 2020, the EU and the UK concluded their negotiations on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and the complementary agreements on security of classified information and nuclear cooperation. The UK Parliament finalised its approval of the agreement on 30 December 2020. The EU countries decided on 29 December 2020 that the three agreements reached before Christmas could be applied provisionally from 1 January 2021. The Council adopted its decision (2020/2252) by written procedure. This prevented a “no-deal” scenario between the EU and the UK at end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.
The European Parliament voted in favour of approving the agreements in its plenary session on 27 April 2021. After this, the Council (i.e. the EU Member States) adopted a separate decision on the conclusion of the agreements on 29 April 2021. This means that the agreements entered into force definitively on 1 May 2021. The Council decision and the final translations of the agreements into all 24 official EU languages, completed in April, are available in the Official Journal of the EU.
Impacts of Brexit on issues within the mandate of the Ministry of Justice:
Changes that took effect on the withdrawal date 31 January 2020
Due to the UK's withdrawal from the EU, the EU and the UK concluded a withdrawal agreement that entered into force on 1 February 2020. The purpose of the agreement was to dismantle all cooperation based on the UK’s EU membership in an orderly manner. During the transition period determined in the withdrawal agreement, extending until the end of 2020, cooperation between the EU and the UK continued under EU rules.
However, the application of EU provisions on local elections in the EU Member States and elections to the European Parliament ended on the withdrawal date, 31 January 2020. As for local elections, national legislation concerning third-country nationals is now applied to UK citizens residing in Finland, which means that they have the right to vote in Finnish local elections (municipal elections) if they have been domiciled in Finland for two years. More information on elections is available on the elections website of the Ministry of Justice at electionsfinland.fi.
Moreover, the provisions governing the European Citizens' Initiative have not been applied with regard to the UK or its citizens since 31 January 2020.
Changes as of 1 January 2021 – new partnership
As of 1 January 2021, the transfer of personal data to the UK will be subject to EU data protection legislation applicable to non-EU countries. The provisions governing data processed or received before the end of the transition period or under the withdrawal agreement should also be observed. More information about transferring personal data to the UK is available on the website of the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman.
As of 1 January 2021, EU legislation on consumer protection and passenger rights will not apply to the UK. However, Finnish consumers will, as a rule, still enjoy protection of the mandatory consumer protection rules of EU law even when dealing with UK-based operators.
In proceedings instituted after 1 January 2021, cooperation in civil and commercial matters between Finland and the United Kingdom is in many respects based on international conventions concluded within the Hague Conference on Private International Law, provided that both Finland and the United Kingdom are parties to a given convention. In the field of family law, for example, both Finland and the UK are parties to the 1996 Hague Convention on the protection of children and the 2007 Hague Convention on the international recovery of maintenance.
In August 2020, the European Commission published a notice entitled Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of civil justice and private international law. The comprehensive notice covers a range of issues such as jurisdiction, applicable law and questions related to the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. The notice also deals with insolvency proceedings and procedures for judicial cooperation between authorities of the Member States.
During 2020, the EU and the UK negotiated an agreement on the new partnership covering a number of key issues. The provisions of the new EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement will apply as of 1 January 2021. Within the mandate of the Ministry of Justice, one of the key areas subject to negotiation was judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The purpose of the agreement is to ensure well-functioning and effective cooperation between the judicial authorities of the EU Member States and the UK. The agreement also contains provisions on surrender, international legal assistance in criminal matters, the freezing and confiscation of assets and the exchange of information extracted from criminal records, among other things. More information on the Government’s report concerning the partnership agreement. (UJ 50/2020 vp - 55/2020 vp)
The EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement also includes provisions on certain issues related to the provision of legal services. For more information, please see the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The withdrawal agreement, which entered into force on 1 February 2020, affects certain matters even after the end of the transition period.
- The withdrawal agreement will, among other things, safeguard the residence, employment and social security rights of EU citizens residing in the UK and UK citizens residing in the EU under EU law for life if they have settled in the UK or the EU before 1 January 2021. Their status and rights will be safeguarded as they were under the key EU legislation on 31 December 2020. The free movement of EU and UK citizens moving to each other's territory after 31 December 2020 will end and restrictions will be placed on their entry and rights. Further information about this is available on the Brexit page of the Ministry of the Interior.
- Judicial procedures under EU law, pending at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, will be completed under the provisions of the withdrawal agreement.
Information about Brexit on the European Commission’s website
EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
The Europe Information website provides information about Brexit and tips for dealing with the changes brought on by Brexit in various sectors (available in Finnish and Swedish).
Information about Brexit on the website of the Embassy of Finland in London