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UK-EU Brexit deal: TechUK and DigitalEurope hail new dawn but note unfinished data business

Technology trade bodies TechUK and DigitalEurope welcome Christmas Eve UK-EU Brexit deal as a new dawn, but say there is work still be to done on data adequacy and financial equivalence

Following announcements from UK prime minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen that a deal on the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU has been reached, TechUK CEO Julian David and Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, director general of DigitalEurope, declared a joint welcome, characterising the deal as a new start for both sides.

David said: “While we wait to see the finer details, a deal will provide clarity on the terms of trade from 1 January 2021, helping businesses prepare for the end of the transition period. It will also support trust and confidence between the two sides so that any outstanding issues, such vital agreements on data adequacy and financial equivalence, can be resolved at speed.”

Bonefeld-Dahl said in the same prepared statement: “Since the referendum result in 2016, we have consistently argued that the EU and the UK should aim for as close a relationship as possible to ensure the success of Europe’s digital sector. 

“While we have yet to dig into the detail of this deal, we are glad to see the joint commitment to eliminating tariffs and quotas, and to liberalising rules of origin. We are also hopeful that the groundwork has been laid for regulatory cooperation and collaboration across the economy, and are fully prepared to contribute to this process. 

“Of course, the work is not yet done. The EU has yet to reach an adequacy decision regarding the UK – there is an urgent need to make progress here so that data can continue to flow between our economies and our businesses. Our recent study showed that six out of 10 European companies transfer data between the EU and UK.”

The joint statement by TechUK and DigitalEurope – a European organisation that represents 61 technology companies and 37 national trade associations – pointed to the highly interconnected nature of the tech sectors of the UK and the EU, citing figures demonstrating trade in telecommunications, computer and information services between the UK and EU amounting to £15.5bn in 2019.

And it underscored the work still to be done on data adequacy and financial equivalence. “The deal announced today will provide clarity over the new trading terms and build confidence and trust so that additional agreements on data adequacy and financial equivalence can be reached to allow UK and EU-based technology companies to get on with the vital work of supporting the economic recovery effort across the continent,” the statement said.

In a nod to the putative historic importance of IT to the UK, Johnson, answering the final question at the press conference to announce the deal, said the Erasmus student study scheme would now be superseded, from a UK perspective, by a new Alan Turing scheme for UK students who wish to study abroad.

In a previous Christmas Eve government news announcement in 2013, Turing was given a royal pardon for the 1952 homosexuality conviction that destroyed his life.

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