Brexit withdrawal agreement sets 2021 deadline for UK access to 25 European IT systems

The UK will be shut out of many European networks and databases over the next few years – and will have to pay the EU for access in the meantime, under terms of Brexit deal

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (left) hands the draft withdrawal agreement to European Council president Donald Tusk   Credit: Dario Pignatelli/DPA/PA Images

After departing the European Union, the UK will eventually be shut out of 28 different EU IT systems, networks, and databases, with an access deadline of 2021 set in most cases. During the withdrawal period, the UK must also pay the EU for the cost of maintaining this access, under the terms of the government’s Brexit deal.

The draft agreement for the UK’s planned withdrawal from the EU dedicates 15 of its 585 pages to laying out future arrangements for how the two parties will share information and manage post-Brexit access to shared networks, IT systems, and databases. Once the withdrawal process is complete, the UK will no longer have access to a total of 28 such platforms (see below for details).

A deadline for the country to be shut out has been set for each individual network and relevant use case. The vast majority of these dates fall somewhere during 2021 – although in some cases access is permitted until as late as 2026.

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However, the UK will only “have access to the extent strictly necessary to comply with its obligations” as set out across the rest of the agreement. Furthermore, the UK must “reimburse the Union for the actual costs incurred by the Union as a consequence of facilitating that access”. 

The EU will send a bill to the UK each year outlining these costs. If this amount proves to be much higher than estimates that the EU has already provided, the UK will be expected to immediately pay the estimated amount, while a joint committee discusses whether and how much more ought to be paid.

Both parties will work to ensure interoperability if and when new systems are implemented or updates are made to existing networks.

The agreement said: “Backwards compatibility for the United Kingdom and the Union shall be established to ensure that, for any changes that are made to the networks, information systems and databases, as well as for any changes to formats for exchanging information, the member states and the United Kingdom can continue to accept each other’s information in the current format, unless the Union and the United Kingdom agree otherwise.”

Once the UK has been shut out of the EU’s customs platforms and databases, “alternative means for the exchange and storage of information shall be used”.

The charts below detail all the networks, databases, and systems covered by the agreement, and the terms and deadlines of access to be imposed on the UK. Click on the images to enlarge and magnify them.




Sam Trendall

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