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CBI calls on UK to retain EU Digital Single Market rules after Brexit

The CBI has called for the UK to converge with, or shadow, the EU’s Digital Single Market initiative in a document released today that calls for the UK to retain EU rules and regulations, post-Brexit. 

The report, “Smooth Operations: An A-Z of the EU Rules That Matter for the Economy, is part of a lobbying effort intended to influence the ongoing Brexit negotiations. 

The CBI report positions the UK as a “word leading digital economy” that is home to “an exciting mix of home-grown entrepreneurial talent and international businesses”.

The organisation asserts that the UK’s digital sector is driven by “highly-skilled” and “high productivity” workers, who are helping the country to become a world leader in technology. 

There is great deal of uncertainty in the UK’s technology sector as the country prepares to leave the European Union

It claims that the UK is number one in ecommerce across Europe and is the fifth best country in the world for the availability of technology. It cites World Economic Forum research to back up its claims. 

Meanwhile, four out of five of the world’s biggest artificial intelligence investments have been in British firms, suggesting that the UK is a leader in the emerging technology market.

The UK’s tech economy is generating competitive jobs “twice as fast as the rest of the economy” and investment right across the country, claims the report.

However, it suggests that this can best be maintained by retaining a close alignment with EU rules across the board. 

Negotiators should look to set a new international precedent in the trade of services and digital products with the Brexit deal

“There are opportunities for rules changes… and ways of regulating better within current frameworks… However, these opportunities are limited and are vastly outweighed by the costs that will be incurred if the UK’s rules change so much that it reduces smooth access to the EU’s market,” the CBI argued. 

It continued: “To adequately match the depth of the relationship between the UK and the EU, negotiators should look to set a new international precedent in the trade of services and digital products with the Brexit deal.”  

And it added: “There is great deal of uncertainty in the UK’s technology sector as the country prepares to leave the European Union.”

The CBI calls the EU “an important partner” for British technology firms, with 40 per cent of their exports going to customers in mainland Europe.

Via the EU, British start-ups and SMEs have the ability to “smoothly access” 500 million consumers.

The report suggests that the UK’s involvement in the Digital Single Market has boosted the country’s economy by £1.7 billion.

It is critical that negotiators understand the complexity of rules and the effects even small changes can have

Britain’s technology sector is dependent on global talent as well, the CBI claims, with more than 15 per cent of its workforce being foreign.

Tom Thackray, CBI Innovation Director, said: “This report comes from the heart of British business. It provides unparalleled evidence to inform good decisions that will protect jobs, investment and living standards across the UK.

“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 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.”

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