What a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario would mean for key UK industries

Multiple spillover effects expected in the Republic

The European Commission has warned of serious consequences for UK industries, including aviation, agriculture, food and drink. What would this actually mean?


More than 2,600 drugs are manufactured, at least in part, in the UK, and many are shipped to the continent. All of those drugs need to be authorised by the European Medicines Agency, which is moving from the UK to Amsterdam after Brexit. If there is no agreement struck that the EMA will remain the "marketing authorisation holder" for the UK, then there will be a fracture. All drugs made in the UK and going to the EU will need to be retested once exported, and vice-versa. The process of tests on both sides of the channel and Irish Sea will slow down the supply of new drugs on to the market. The EU has warned the pharma sector to rethink their supply chains, and make contingency plans.


The EU has warned that those who have certification from UK authorities that they can legally work on vessels on the sea, will no longer be able to work on those going under the flag of the 27 EU member states, be they fishing boats, ferries or super-yachts. The development has alarmed the seafarers' union, Nautilus International, which has demanded the UK government ensure that there are no barriers to British sailors' employment.


Long-haul lorry and coach drivers will no longer be able to rely on their UK certificate of professional competence and will need to obtain certification from one of the 27 member states if they want to continue to work across Europe, the European commission has warned. UK companies involved in transporting goods across the EU will also need to have a base in the Republic or on the continent if they wish to continue to operate.



In order to fly passengers and luggage across the EU, a carrier must have its headquarters in an EU member state. For this reason, easyJet has established a HQ in Austria. There are also ownership strictures. A carrier must be majority-owned or effectively controlled by EU member states or nationals of EU member states. The pan-European company, IAG, which owns Aer Lingus and British Airways, faces a problem. As it stands, it will need to disinvest UK shareholders in order to become EU majority-owned or face being told that Iberia cannot fly between Madrid and Barcelona. UK carriers will also fall out of aviation agreements with third countries such as the US, imperilling pan-Atlantic services, unless bilateral agreements can be struck.

Agriculture, food and drink

Pig breeders, mineral water exporters and horse owners have been warned that contingency plans should be made. UK-based breeders of pure-bred and hybrid breeding pigs are told that they need to register their breeds in the books of the other 27 member states in order for them to be recognised in the rest of Europe. Horses entering the EU will be treated as if they come from a third country, potentially dealing a blow to the racing community in Ireland as well as Britain. As it stands, horses need only to have an EU passport and be on a livestock database. They do not require a veterinary export health certification or customs documentation. Mineral water exporters will need the approval of the EU member states, who have their own industries to protect, if they are to sell them on the continent.

– Guardian service