Trade in goods and level playing field

The law and politics of Brexit. Volume III : the framework of new EU-UK relations, 2021
Mariani, Paola; Sacerdoti, Giorgio

The chapter focuses on the regulation of trade in goods under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which is arguably the most important section of the treaty regulating the new framework of EU-UK relations. To this end, the chapter examines the basic features of the trade in goods regime of the TCA, the rules of origin, and focuses more specifically on level playing field (LPF) rules enshrined in the treaty, discussing both its substantive content and its mechanisms of enforcement, including dispute settlement and remedial measures.
The core argument of the chapter is that the TCA, despite its resemblance to other preferential (free trade) agreements concluded by the EU with other trade partners, represents a peculiarity in the regulation of EU trade relations with a third country. For the first time in history, provisions modelled on trade liberalization agreements are being used to establish and operate a less open regime.
The chapter is structured as follows. Section 2 examines the specificity of the ‘disintegration’ process of Brexit replacing UK participation in the internal EU market with a ‘thin’ free trade agreement (FTA). The TCA provides as to goods a regime that excludes tariffs and quantitative restrictions, but does not provide for any common standard or mutual recognition, thus requiring cumbersome controls and certifications. Section 3 focuses on the origin of goods regulation highlighting the role this technical legislation will play in the future economic relations between the EU and UK. The chapter then provides an analysis of the most innovative, but also most contentious and problematic, trade issue of the TCA: LPF provisions for open and fair competition and sustainable development. Sections 4 and 5 provide a general analysis of the concept and its scope; sections 6, 7, and 8 elaborate on competition and subsidies and the