BT’s businesses in the UK (across telecoms, broadband, TV and mobile) are being, and have been, supported by EU digital regulation, much of it shaped by the UK Government in driving for a Telecoms and Digital Single Market. We have over 7000 people in continental Europe providing B2B services including connectivity, corporate networks, cloud solutions and cybersecurity. Major customers include the EU institutions and NATO. We have a presence in all EU27 outside the UK, with substantial activities in Germany, Benelux, Spain, Italy, France and Hungary.
BT is therefore keen to see a constructive and enduring relationship with the EU to and through Brexit. We have provided evidence to Parliamentary inquiries and have of course met with Ministers and officials.
Our five priorities areas are in summary below.
People: certainty as soon as possible for current employees of all nationalities and location (where we welcome ongoing Government efforts to achieve an early resolution), continued access to scarce talent and resources, and the ability to move skilled people throughout the EU on an intra-corporate basis.
Data flows: no restrictions on trans-border data flows, nor obligations on data localisation in the UK or EU. The UK must be seen as an equivalent regime for data security and data protection to ensure free data flows for all commercial sectors.
Trading relationship: a close, open and non-discriminatory trading relationship with the EU and other major markets which recognises the UK’s strengths in strategically important services across the financial, digital and communications sectors. Regulatory alignment between the UK and EU makes good economic sense in the telecoms/digital sectors, with an accent needed on a long-term approach to proportionate regulation encouraging innovation and network investment. Brexit also provides the opportunity for new trade deals as a template for future best practice such as with the USA.
R&D, Innovation and Standards: full reciprocal access to EU bids for R&D and related funding, e.g. Horizon 2020, for all universities and research bodies and companies, including participation in dialogues that set research and standards priorities. Enhanced Government/industry effort in global bodies dealing with standards, radio spectrum and internet technologies (e.g. ITU, ICANN, CEPT) should also be valuable.
Transition & implementation period: sufficient time to allow businesses and others greater certainty, and to adapt and plan for any new arrangements from and beyond March 2019.