Brexit, which means unpicking 40 years of economic and regulatory integration – an already “complex and colossal” task – will have to done even more carefully, if members of the CBI have their way.
That’s because they have just been consulted on a massive research exercise on what they, as well as “dozens” of leading British trade associations, see as the rules that we and our son to be former European colleagues stick to to support continued frictionless business.
The result of the consultation is Smooth Operations – a new CBI document based on conversations everyone from architects to zoos to understand the regulatory needs of 23 industry and service sectors.
And the message to government: 18 prefer “convergence or alignment” for the majority of trading regulations going forward.
The study, compiled over six months, says Brexit presents opportunities for rule changes in sectors such as agriculture, shipping and tourism that could ultimately benefit the British economy and consumers.
But it claims opportunities for divergence are vastly outweighed by the costs of deviating from rules necessary to ensure smooth access to the EU market.
Another important finding is that changes to rules in one sector have significant knock on effects for companies in other sectors and throughout supply chains.
The main regulatory needs in the technology and creative sectors are:
The UK will have to negotiate hard to convince the EU to ensure the UK’s licensed TV channels can continue broadcasting to EU consumers and will most likely need to continue to apply EU rules.
Strong protections for intellectual property are critical to supporting the UK’s world-leading creative talent. The creative industries want to maintain as many of these protections as possible on leaving the EU.
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Convergence on data standards that pave the way for an ‘adequacy agreement’ is a priority
It will also be critical for the UK to continue to shape forthcoming regulations on the Digital Single Market to best reflect the need of UK businesses and consumers.
Businesses require continued convergence on rules on roaming to avoid costs rising for consumers and as EU regulation of the telecoms sector has been largely positive, stability is the priority in order to continue achieving the good objectives of EU rules and preserve investment certainty.
“This report comes from the heart of British business [and] provides unparalleled evidence to inform good decisions that will protect jobs, investment and living standards across the UK,” claimed CBI Innovation Director, Tom Thackray.
“The experience-based evidence of companies across the country will be essential in the months ahead, as it is critical that negotiators understand the complexity of rules and the effects even small changes can have.
“The UK is a world leading digital economy, and the tech and creative sectors are an exciting mix of home-grown entrepreneurial talent and international businesses. The tech economy is creating jobs twice as fast as the rest of the economy and spurring jobs and investment across the UK, so a close relationship between UK and EU rules in the technology and creative sectors will be necessary after Brexit to support truly global industries. British and European consumers and businesses both stand to benefit from getting it right on technology rules.”
For Stephen Hurley, Senior Lawyer and Head of Brexit Planning at BT Group, “The current UK regulatory framework, which is grounded in EU law and ensures an important role for the EU Commission, has worked well for the most part and has been successful in delivering substantial investment and effective competition in the UK across a wide variety of markets.
“The current regime also enables UK operators and customers to benefit from the Single Market, and we therefore think ongoing UK/EU alignment is important post-Brexit,” he added.
“In any event, a key element of the sector’s future success will be a stable and proportionate regulatory environment, with appropriate checks and balances.”
A sector-by-sector summary of the post-Brexit rules and regulations the CBU says its members want is found at the start of the report.
The CBI claims to speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors, with its corporate members alone employing nearly 7 million people, about a third of all private sector-employees.