techUK has prepared a briefing ahead of the Second Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill outlining a number of areas where further clarity is needed to ensure the legislation is effective for UK tech.
Tech companies want and need clarity that the regulatory environment in which they operate will remain stable. Therefore we view the passage of this Bill as an important and necessary step in the UK’s planning for Brexit.
While we believe changes may be necessary to ensure that the powers are appropriate, it is important that the legislation reaches the statute book swiftly. This will enable the regulatory changes that need to be made under the Bill’s ‘correcting’ power to commence as soon as possible. The tech sector, and all businesses, need as much time as possible assess the impact of subsequent secondary legislation and engage with Government on the detail.
There are, however, five areas where we believe further detail is needed during the passage of the Bill. These are:
1. Post-Bill Regulations: There will be a high number of statutory instruments that follow on from the Bill. To enable businesses to properly engage, the Government should publish a timetable of what statutory instruments they intend to lay before Parliament and when they expect to do so.
2. Article 8 of the European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights: Retaining the Right to Protection of Personal Data is important to UK efforts to secure a mutual adequacy agreement to allow the free flow of personal data post- Brexit. The Government should therefore seek to ensure that Article 8 is replicated in UK law.
3. Charges by UK regulators: The Bill allows new UK regulators to replicate charges currently levied by EU regulators. This risk UK businesses being charged twice for cross border services. The Government should seek to secure mutual recognition of charges to avoid increasing costs on business.
4. Urgent Cases: The Bill allows urgent changes to be made without prior Parliamentary approval. More clarity is needed as to when these urgent powers can be used.
5. Divergence post-Brexit: This Bill does not deal with the question of gradual divergence of regulatory systems. The Government need to acknowledge that this Bill is part of an ongoing process that will require a clear understanding for business of how Government will approach divergence questions post-Brexit.