Brexit has been a tumultuous and uncertain time for industry. The UK’s departure on 31 January only marked the formal departure from the EU’s institutions. The UK is currently in a transition period whereby we remain a part of the Single Market and Customs Union until the 31 December 2020. The next phase of our relationship – negotiating a future relationship with the EU – is now well under way.
During this transition period things will pretty much continue as they are. But for the UK and EU negotiating teams, this will be a fraught period, as they try to hammer out a deal to determine the future UK-EU relationship within an extremely tight time-frame. In addition to a trade deal the EU has committed to conducting a data adequacy assessment of the UK before making an adequacy decision. This is a pre-requisite to the free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK.
Whilst the transition period ends at the end of the year, the EU has warned that a deal must be agreed by the end of October to give sufficient time for national governments and parliaments across the EU27 to ratify.
There have been tensions over how much the UK should align with EU regulations to maximise market access vis-à-vis how much it should diverge to establish an independent trade policy. These tensions have led to sticking points over governance, fisheries, agreement architecture and level-playing field.
Apart from the EU, the UK has made it clear that it is prioritising trade deals with the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It is also actively considering whether to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which involve 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
By virtue of being an EU Member State, the UK was party to 40 trade deals covering 70 countries and territories. But over the past two years the UK has been busy seeking continuity deals with many of those states which currently have free trade deals with the EU. However, some countries have opted to wait for the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations.
As representatives of the advertising industry, we remain actively engaged in the process and are feeding directly into trade policy technical discussions. We are represented at a number of the Department of Trade’s Expert Trade Advisory Groups (ETAGs) and we are regularly consulting with stakeholder groups such the CBI, Professional Business Services Council and the Creative Industries Council.
The AA key priorities concern the free flow of cross border data and services as well as having a new migration system that is flexible, growth friendly and will allow the UK to attract the best global talent. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates when appropriate.