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Why trade with the European Union

Why trade with the European Union

Your checklist

Advantages of exporting to the EU

There are 500 million potential consumers of your products and services in the EU. Plus, 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 five export markets for products and services from Scotland, year after year – and make ideal starter markets for companies new to exporting. 

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


Know the market opportunity

The EU is a large market consisting of 27 other countries, so identify those EU markets which offer the greatest potential for your company. 

Given the trading history between the UK and EU markets, there's extensive research available on the different EU markets, particularly where there's a strong demand for different Scottish products and services. 

Information on potential competitors is also readily accessible. EU markets are relatively easy to travel to and explore, so you can gain a better understanding of the markets and the opportunities for your company.

Gather information on EU markets

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

Ask for help from our market research team

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

The Enterprise Europe Network also offers free advice on European market innovation and business opportunities. Many Scottish and UK trade associations also have strong links into EU markets, as does the Scottish Chambers network.

Understand 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 increasing 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, and whether hard or soft Brexit is adopted.

Whatever the outcome, the markets and customers of the EU will still exist, as will demand for Scottish products and services. Ultimately, 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

Firstly, discuss the EU opportunities for your company with one of our export advisers who will help you prepare and plan for exporting to the EU – a free service for any company based in Scotland.

Get help from our export advisory service

Further information

Take a look at the various websites which provide information on market opportunities in the EU: 

Contact us

Ask our experts about preparing an export plan.


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.