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Why expand in the EU?

Why expand in the EU?

Your checklist

Consider the advantages of exporting to the EU

As an experienced exporter, you may already be operating in EU markets and other markets globally, and looking at the potential for your company to grow in the EU given the current favourable Sterling to Euro exchange rate for exports. 

Why the EU?

46% of all international exports from Scotland go to countries in the EU market (worth £14.9 billion). The Netherlands, France, Germany and Ireland are consistently among the top export markets for products and services from Scotland.  

Scotland's top EU export destinations

  • Netherlands £2.5 billion
  • France £2.4 billion
  • Germany £2.3 billion
  • Ireland £1.5 billion

Source: Export Statistics Scotland 2017

Technical and safety standards in the EU are currently harmonised with the UK. You can record EU sales simply on your normal VAT return, without the additional paperwork required for markets outside the EU. 

Gather information on EU markets

Our free market research service can help signpost you to relevant EU information, such as initial competitor analysis and the potential of a new market to credit checks on potential partners or customers in EU and other markets. 

We can provide a range of support to help you identify the right market opportunity for your product or service, including:

  • Market guides
  • Global market intelligence
  • Competitor insights
  • Credit rating checks
  • Industry trends and forecasts
  • Consumer demographics
  • Supplier databases
  • Live opportunities 
  • Finding the right partners and contacts

Make a market research enquiry

We can also help you access a wide variety of sector and consumer market reports, and individual EU market guides. 

Other free resources include:

'Doing Business Guides' on the Institute of Export & International Trade website

Expand your connections

Scottish Development International and our partners at Department for International Trade (DIT) have offices in key markets across Europe.  Local specialists there will provide information on how to do business in each market to help identify the right market opportunity for your company. 

EU export opportunities on the Exporting is GREAT website

The Enterprise Europe Network can also help with free advice on European market innovation and business opportunities. 

Many Scottish and UK trade associations have strong links into EU markets, as does the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

And don't forget our GlobalScot network – an invaluable resource for Scottish businesses to tap local insight and experience into doing business in individual EU markets.

Realise your potential in EU markets

Once you've decided where the priority EU markets are for your company, to either enter or grow, then you may want to consider going out to the market to further explore the potential. 

You can visit the market independently, or consider SDI and DIT led market visits and learning journeys to the EU markets over the coming year.

You may also be eligible for support to attend or exhibit at targeted trade shows and exhibitions in EU markets.

Help is also available to:

  • Find agents and distributors in your chosen markets
  • Sell online into the market either directly or through online marketplaces
  • Establish a company presence in your selected EU markets

Search our events

Plan for the implications of Brexit

Further to the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017 setting in motion the process for the UK to leave the EU, Sterling has declined in value against the Euro providing favourable export opportunities for many Scottish companies.

The final impact of Brexit on Scottish trade with the EU will depend on the outcomes of the current EU/UK negotiations.

Whatever the outcome, the markets and customers of the EU will still exist, as will demand for Scottish products and services. It will be the terms of trade which will differ. 

Get to know the risks, rewards and challenges for your business. 

Get the latest on Brexit - find resources, advice, events and services to help you develop your Brexit plans.

Get the right support and advice

Discuss EU opportunities for your company with one of our export advisers or your Scottish Enterprise/SDI account manager if you have one. They'll help fast-track your EU export plan – a free service for any company based in Scotland.

Contact us

Got any questions about EU opportunities or expanding in new markets? Our experts are here to help.


All information provided on this web page is for general guidance only. The contents of this guide have been provided by our training partners, Upper Quartile. Upper Quartile is not affiliated with any of the third parties or listings represented on our website. Third party listings are drawn from public domain and industry body data sources. Due diligence on a given third party or listing remains the exclusive responsibility of the end user. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the details represented, Upper Quartile and Scottish Enterprise cannot endorse, recommend or accept responsibility for any transactions conducted between the user and a given third party or listing provided on this web page.