Commenting on the release of the second group of No Deal Technical Notices, including a notice on the free flow of data, techUK CEO Julian David said:
“It is right that the Government takes a proactive approach to planning for No Deal. However, today’s notices show is that such a scenario would be hugely damaging to the UK. On everything from the free flow of data that underpins almost every business transaction, to the ability to drive in Europe, both businesses and consumers will face additional costs, complexity and bureaucracy. That is why techUK strongly supports the Government’s continued objective of securing a comprehensive deal between the UK and the EU.
“The technical notice on personal data is a text book example of the problems that a No Deal Brexit would cause. We recognise it would still be the intention of the UK to seek an adequacy decision and welcome the clarity that the UK is ready to start those discussions now. While we fully support the Government in its aim to achieve adequacy, this will not be ready in the event of No Deal.
“While the decision to unilaterally allow data from the UK to flow to the EU is the right thing to do, the Government can do nothing to help UK companies seeking to transfer data from the EU to the UK. Instead, they will have to rely on complex processes such as Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). SCCs are currently subject to a major legal challenge in the EU and so their future is in doubt. While this is out of the UK Government’s control, businesses need to be aware of this fact and it is, therefore, disappointing that it is not recognised in the technical notice.
“techUK is also concerned that the notice does not identify any support that Government can give to businesses to help them put in place SCCs. The legal costs involved may prove prohibitively expensive for many smaller UK businesses and serious consideration should be given to what Government support can be put in place.
“It is also concerning that the data paper does not address regulatory uncertainty surrounding the Binding Corporate Rules used by larger companies that are administered by the UK’s Information Commissioner. Companies will need to re-locate to the authority governing these rules, and yet, there is little guidance on or support for how this might work in practise.
“Data is not the only area that will be of concern to UK tech companies. The notice dealing with the space sector confirms what we have known for some time - the UK will lose the ability to participate in European Space programmes. techUK strongly welcomes the £92 million to design a UK version of the Galileo Navigation Satellite System, but the effects on companies with existing contracts for Galileo remains uncertain.
“techUK also welcomes the flexibility shown by the Department for Business on plans around CE Marking. The notice states that while a UK version will be created, products with EU approval will continue to be recognised in the UK. This will prevent costly additional processes for manufacturers. However, techUK is concerned at references to such a system being time limited. Reducing friction on businesses must remain a key element of Brexit planning under either a deal or no deal scenario.”
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