Brexit Update: What we still don’t know.
With March 2019 fast approaching, there are still a large number of unknowns for UK citizens and businesses to try and get to grips with. The Government published a briefing paper at the end of September highlighting some of the main areas of uncertainty. This blog highlights two areas identified in the briefing paper that are likely to be of concern to UK businesses.
With regard to Trade Relations following Brexit, we do know that the EU intends for its current agreements with non-EU countries to be ‘rolled over’ for the benefit of the UK during a transition period. However, this assumes that a withdrawal agreement is reached. We also know that the UK is in discussions with a number of these countries directly to formalise the ‘roll over’, but there is concern that the process won’t be completed by March 2019. Looking ahead, we know that the UK intends to negotiate its own trade agreements with non-EU countries following Brexit, which means that the longer-term position remains uncertain.
Of more concern perhaps, is what the trade arrangements between the UK and the EU will be following Brexit. Assuming that a withdrawal agreement is reached, we know that there will be a transition/implementation period meaning that trade relationships between the UK and the EU will remain largely unchanged in the immediate term. However, in order for a withdrawal agreement to be reached, the basic principles of future trade relations need to have been agreed, which at present, seems to be a sticking point. In a ‘no deal’ scenario, it’s very difficult to say what trade relations with the EU would involve immediately following 29 March 2019.
A second area where uncertainty remains is Data Protection and Data Sharing. Following the upheaval caused by the implementation of the GDPR earlier this year, UK companies are no doubt hoping that further changes won’t be required. Sadly, the EU has indicated that the UK will be treated as any another third country for the purposes of data protection law following Brexit. This means that the ability of EU countries to share personal data with UK entities will be subject to an ‘adequacy decision’ being reached by the EU in respect of the UK regime.
Rebecca Gardner, Corporate & Commercial Partner at Howat Avraam Solicitors comments: The key question at present in respect of trade relations following Brexit, is whether a withdrawal agreement can be reached with the EU. Without it, there will be a significant and immediate impact on all UK industries after 29 March 2019. The Government has issued sector specific guidance on how to prepare for a ‘no-deal’ scenario (which can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal), but clearly, it would be preferable to maintain the status quo during a transition period to enable a detailed trade agreement to be negotiated. With regard to data sharing following Brexit, I would hope that an ‘adequacy decision’ from the EU will be a formality given that the Data Protection Act 2018 is based on the GDPR, but again, it would be preferable to have certainty on the subject of data sharing before 29 March 2019. We will be keeping a close eye on developments in this area over the coming weeks.
Howat Avraam Solicitors provide Corporate, Commercial, Employment, Real Estate and Contract Dispute advice to companies, business owners and individuals. As business owners ourselves, we have a pragmatic in-house approach to resolving issues before they arise, by working alongside our clients as part of their team. We are commercial, practical and entrepreneurial in our approach to legal services.
To discuss any Commercial or Contractual matter with us on a no obligation basis, please contact Rebecca Gardner on 020 3735 6700 or email Rebecca at Rebecca.Gardner@hasolicitors.co.uk . Alternatively, visit our website at www.howatavraamsolicitors.co.uk for more information.