Brexit fears over future of tech and food industries

UK ministers and industry are growing increasingly concerned at the disruption Brexit could cause to the digital economy and food and drink sectors.

Brexit effect on the technology, food and drink industries - UK historic pub
Any Brexit disruption to the free flow of data across Europe could seriously harm the UK's thriving digital economy, the government accepted on Thursday.In a position paper published ahead of the third round of formal Brexit talks in Brussels next week, the government set out its plans to try and ensure that personal data will continue to be safely and cost-effectively exchanged across the continent despite the UK's withdrawal from the EU.Anxious to protect the UK's £119 billion digital economy, the government warned, "Any disruption to these cross-border data flows could be costly to both Britain and the EU."

Digital Minister Matt Hancock, and TechUK's Anthony Walker, on EU/UK data flow

Matt Hancock, the digital minister, said, “In the modern world, data flows increasingly underpin trade, business and all relationships. We want the secure flow of data to be unhindered in the future as we leave the EU."So a strong future data relationship between the UK and EU, based on aligned data protection rules, is in our mutual interest. Our goal is to combine strong privacy rules with a relationship that allows flexibility, to give consumers and businesses certainty in their use of data."But Anthony Walker, deputy chief executive of the trade body TechUK, said, "The free flow of personal data across borders is fundamental to trade, commerce and communication. The tech sector, and increasingly every business in the UK that does business internationally, needs a clear legal basis for data transfer post-Brexit."We are pleased that the Government acknowledges the urgent need for a solution to this problem or they risk serious harm to both businesses and consumers."Securing an adequacy agreement or any other unique arrangement will take time. The fastest adequacy decision ever given by the EU took 18 months. This again underlines the need for a significant, time-limited interim period that allows both Government and businesses the time needed to adapt to a post-Brexit system."

UK technology sector could soon be worth £240 billion

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the government's stance as a "step forward", but said that any failure to reach a transition deal with the EU could harm a sector that could soon be worth £240 billion.Tom Thackray, director of innovation at the CBI, said, "The strong alignment between British and European data standards opens the door to crafting a robust framework that enables the uninterrupted flow of data."In the short term, a seamless transition deal is necessary to protect the free flow of information and provide legal certainty to businesses and consumers."
Related news:

UK food and drink industry: food is a national security issue

Meanwhile, a report from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) warned that 36 per cent of the UK's food and farming industry could be rendered "unviable" without access to European workers.FDF research through 627 companies in the industry's £110 billion supply chain also found that 17 per cent of businesses were ready to relocate their operations overseas if they lost access to EU workers.The report said that to ensure the future of the industry, the government must guarantee the rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK and build an "attractive and effective" migration system. Ian Wright, director general of the FDF, said, "The UK food and drink supply chain ensures that consumers have access to the safe, affordable and delicious range of food and drink that they have come to expect."Food is a matter of national security, so the results of this report are of central concern to businesses across the 'farm to fork' industries."It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty reported by businesses results in an irreversible exit of EU workers from these shores. This is a scenario that will hurt the UK culturally and economically."Without our dedicated and valued workforce, we would be unable to feed the nation. This is why it is imperative that we receive assurances from government about their future, and that of our wider workforce."For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

Related Articles