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How the UK Left the EU using an API First Approach and the Long-Term Outlook

Blog series (5/5)

The need for interoperability between different systems and applications grows as the world becomes increasingly digitalized. This is why using APIs – which allow third-party applications to interact with each other – has become so important. 

However, despite the benefits of using APIs, the public sector and many businesses still do not understand how best to do so. As a result, many projects end up being slow or fail altogether due to a lack of coordination between different teams.

The UK followed an API-first approach when leaving the European Union. Although adopting an API-first approach achieved its objectives and streamlined the transition, there is always room for improvement.

To realize the full potential of APIs and make them truly useful for the public and businesses, a joined-up approach must take into account the public and the tech sectors.

How the UK used an API-first approach to exit the EU successfully

The UK’s successful exit from the EU is an excellent example of how an API-first approach can be used to navigate complex processes. Using the right software and strategies, the UK could smoothly exit the EU, demonstrating its capabilities and resilience. The long-term outlook for the UK is positive, as this approach has shown that it can handle complex challenges successfully. Key APIs that were in place for the EU exit continue to be heavily used to facilitate UK trade with the EU and ROI. 

API examples of this can be seen here:


Goods Vehicle Movements API ( links declaration references together, meaning the person moving goods only needs to present one reference at the frontier to prove that their goods have pre-lodged declarations.

Check an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) (

number, this is the ability to check a trader who imports or exports goods into the European Union (EU)

Customs Declaration Service (

Supports the UK’s trade with the EU & rest of the world

How a standalone API-first lead strategy is not enough

The UK’s decision to exit the EU has generated much interest. However, from a long-term perspective, many overlook one crucial factor – a standalone API-first lead strategy is insufficient. This approach relies on the assumption that the Government infrastructure is API-first-ready. But, as we have seen repeatedly, this is not always the case. To succeed with API-first strategies, it is essential to partner with companies with a robust API-first platform. A company that can help you design, implement, and manage your API-first strategy.

Managing, maintaining, and deploying APIs

The UK will need to manage, maintain and deploy its APIs to take advantage of the API-first approach over the long term. Mulesoft anypoint platform is well-positioned to help with this. Not only does the platform have the experience and expertise in this area, but it can also reuse assets and services, making the process easier and more efficient.

The long-term outlook for an API-first approach

The UK government has recognized that an API-first approach is the best way for the country regarding trade and the economy. With this approach, businesses can develop new cross-border services quickly and easily, making the UK a more competitive and open economy. There are long-term opportunities for businesses to take advantage of the API-first approach. This is not only innovative and forward-looking but also has the potential to create many jobs in the UK.

Government policy decisions and cautious nature can affect a joined-up approach

Creating an API-first strategy is not without its challenges. Policy decisions, and the need to limit reputational damage, make the approach difficult. Also, the conservative nature of government means that a joined-up and consistent approach can be challenging. This is why using one platform for APIs and integrations is essential.

The public sector needs to learn from the tech sector to fully embrace an API-first strategy

By embracing an API-first approach, the UK could quickly design and deploy new technologies, improving the process of exiting the EU. This is why the public sector needs to learn from the tech sector – to take advantage of the API first trend fully. This approach not only allows for faster innovation but also facilitates better communication and collaboration between different Government departments.


The UK successfully used an API-first approach to exit the EU and achieve its long-term objectives. This strategy was based on providing high-quality, relevant APIs that enabled businesses to connect with the government. Although this approach is not without its challenges, such as government policy decisions that can affect the deployment of APIs, the trend towards an API-first approach is straightforward. The public sector needs to learn from the tech sector and fully embrace an API-first approach to maintain its competitive edge.