The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said there must be an agreement on the exchange of data between the European Union (EU) and the UK after Brexit to ensure the £240bn data economy isn’t disrupted.
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The UK must prove its data laws and business standards meet EU standards, the CBI warned.
“The UK government has taken the right steps by introducing the new Data Protection Bill and committing to the EU General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR],” said CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie.
“But in the long-term, we need an adequacy decision with the EU, where the UK can prove our data laws and business environment meet EU standards.”
Hardie said the UK must show it has a business environment that really protects data because “unless the Brexit negotiations find another way, getting such a deal would mean becoming a third country. In other words, we’d need to leave the EU before that process could even begin.”
He cited the last major data deal between the EU and a third country, which was with New Zealand and took four years. “We don’t have four years. We can’t afford to wait for that deal to be made because businesses are facing decisions today,” he added.
Hardie warned that no deal with the EU on Brexit will cause problems for UK businesses, including increased compliance costs and the potential of fines.
“With Brexit on the horizon, the UK is approaching a data cliff-edge. GDPR comes into force on 25 May next year – just 44 weeks before we leave the EU. When the clock strikes midnight on March 29 2019, we need a bridge to the future that keeps things simple, minimises disruption and maximises continuity,” he said.
Hardie said establishing a transition deal on data will protect the UK’s data-driven businesses. “Without this vital bridge, firms risk being left with no legal certainty when transferring and processing data,” he added.
According to Hardie, the businesses hit hardest by no deal will be SMEs. “It really will affect jobs, growth and prosperity across the UK,” he said.