Brexit “landing zone” in sight? Less than 30 days to find out …

Brexit Landing

So now we have it. On Wednesday the Prime Minister wrote to Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, with the Government’s proposals for a new “Protocol on Northern Ireland/Ireland”. This is an attempt to break the logjam of the Northern Ireland backstop which has held up progress on a Brexit deal for so long in the UK Parliament.

Perhaps PM Johnson’s key line in his covering letter to Juncker is that the Proposal offers “a broad landing zone”. This suggests that the paper is a step in the direction of further talks and not necessarily the take-it-or-leave-it offer which had been briefed in advance. This clearly indicates the intention to secure a Brexit deal remains. But there is very little time left with only 27 days remaining on the Brexit countdown clock.

The fact that Parliament is sitting following last week’s Supreme Court ruling gives the Government an opportunity to test the waters with MPs, particularly those that objected fundamentally to the backstop arrangements.   This is important as the EU are only likely to re-enter into negotiations if they feel the resultant deal has a chance of passing with a majority in the Westminster Parliament.

Data Transfer has moment in the limelight

Meanwhile Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Steve Barclay, has been on manoeuvres stressing the importance of a deal, but also the importance of flexibility in negotiations.  A speech in Madrid on 19th September 2019 contained a rare reference to data protection and the status of data sharing if there is a no deal Brexit. Barclay said:

“even though the UK has adopted in full the EU aquis [the body of EU law] on data, the Commission position is businesses here in Spain will be restricted in what data they can share with the UK

That affects not just the tourism industry, not just the 45 million flights from the UK to Spain each year, that affects businesses much more widely, and I wonder within this audience how confident it is that small and medium sized businesses across Spain are fully prepared for that sort of change.”

Clearly there is still a lot to play for in the Brexit negotiations. As the Secretary of State points out it is vital that the outcome is mutually beneficial for all parties.   To quote the text of his Madrid speech

“A rigid approach now – at this point – is no way to progress a deal – the responsibility sits with both sides to find a solution. We [the UK Government] are committed to carving out a landing zone.”

Data Compliance – Impact on UK Businesses

The UK government’s approach to transfers, is to recognize existing EEA countries as offering adequate data protection from the point at which the UK leaves the EU. Any formal discussion of the UK’s adequacy, in contrast, will not take place until after the UK has left the EU.

To ensure that data continues to flow businesses must act to:

  • review data flows from the EU,
  • ensure that all data transfers from the EU are covered by the appropriate transfer mechanism such as the standard contract clauses;
  • ensure internal documentation states that transfers will be made to the UK; and
  • update privacy notices to inform individuals that transfers will be made to the UK;
  • Consider whether not you need to appoint a Data Protection Representative in the EU.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries or concerns about how Brexit will affect your business, by calling 01787 277742 or email teambrexit@datacompliant.co.uk

Gareth Evans, 4th October 2019