However, it is still too early to confidently predict the impact that the possible absence of an EU-UK customs union could have on competition law in the UK. What is clear, however, is that any comparison with Canada (or any other jurisdiction) must take into account the specific circumstances of the UK, including its proximity to the EU and its current arrangements with the EU. Article 92 of the Withdrawal Agreement provides that, even after the end of the transition period, the European Commission will be responsible for dealing with administrative procedures in the context of on-line administrative procedures relating to the application of EU competition law to UK businesses or as regards competition in the UK, whose investigation it initiated before 31 December 2020. Article 95 provides that all decisions resulting therefrom are binding on the United Kingdom and its State. The European courts also remain competent to examine appeals against the resulting decisions. As a closely coordinated and interconnected area when the UK joins the EU, the application of competition law in the UK is expected to be seriously affected by Brexit. It is now becoming clear that the Withdrawal Agreement will limit the immediate effects and that EU competition law will continue to have a significant impact on the UK regime in the coming years. However, the result of the Uk general election on 12 December 2019 increased the likelihood that the UK government will seek a trade deal that excludes the UK from the EU`s customs union. In fact, the Conservative Party manifesto published during the election campaign promised to „keep the UK out of the single market, out of any form of customs union and to end the role of the European Court of Justice, and at the time of the letter, the government is negotiating with the Commission in pursuit of a `Canadian-like` trade deal (which would not include the UK being part of the EU`s customs union).
State aid (State subsidies) is often considered to be the third pillar of competition law. This is one of the main points of disagreement between the parties in the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the UK on their future relationship. Under EU law, the general principle is that aid (which can take any form) should not be granted without prior EC authorisation. The aim of this policy is to avoid distortions of competition between Member States resulting from unauthorized aid granted by national governments to local industries or sectors. During the transitional period, the EC will be responsible for examining requests for assistance from the United Kingdom. The EC will continue to be responsible for State aid granted by the United Kingdom before 31 December 2020 and 31 December 2024. The problem lies in the UK`s state aid rules after the transition period. Wondering what UK competition law has looked like since the UK`s exit from the EU on 31 January 2020 („Brexit Day”) and what it might look like after the end of the transition period? The answer to the first question is relatively simple: (almost) nothing has changed. However, the design of UK competition law after the end of the transition period will depend on the trade agreement that the UK negotiates with the EU by 31 December 2020 (the current end of the transition period). There may be background music on the subject suggesting that a workable toolbox of aid mechanisms can be found, but it has not yet been articulated. In the absence of a state aid agreement, UK companies can expect increased EC scrutiny to address perceived violations of the final relationship between the UK and the EU or alleged breaches of the Fallback Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.