Trends 2021

Europe 2021: The dual threat of Brexit and Covid-19

As Europe rides out the effects of the coronavirus pandemic 2021 brings with it the added the added uncertainty of Brexit.

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At the start of 2020, there was one thing front of mind for UK and European businesses, regardless of industry, and that was Brexit but by March, it was completely usurped by the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns and the economic fallout that came with that.

It has made 2020 one of the toughest in living memory. For tech and IT companies, it has meant restructuring of costs, layoffs and a complete re-think of growth projections all while Brexit lurked in the background.

Now as 2020 comes to an end and the world prepares for 2021, this dual threat of Brexit and Covid-19 has not gone away, leaving businesses in an unenviable task of trying to prepare for another rocky year ahead. This all creates more uncertainty.

The impacts on the data economy remain particularly muddled. Once the UK’s transition period ends, the UK will require a data adequacy agreement with the EU to ensure the flow of data can continue. Any disruptions to that flow can create massive headaches for businesses in many sectors.

Getting an adequacy agreement is not a sure bet either. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties wrote to the European Commission in October arguing that the UK’s data protection laws were below par and an agreement should not be granted. That same week a House of Lords report warned “there is a possibility that the Commission may not grant the UK a data adequacy decision”.

Companies doing business into the UK from the EU or vice versa will need to think about alternative arrangements with their customers and partners to keep the data tap on.

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