DIGITAL TRADE, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES (SMES)
Does the Agreement cover digital trade?
The Agreement contains provisions aimed at facilitating digital trade, by addressing unjustified barriers, and ensuring an open, secure and trustworthy online environment for businesses and consumers, along with high standards of personal data protection. It notably prohibits data localisation requirements, while preserving the EU’s policy space regarding the protection of personal data.
Will the Agreement ensure strong protection of EU intellectual property in the UK?
The draft Trade and Cooperation Agreement complements the existing international multilateral legal framework with specific and more detailed standards on the respect of intellectual property rights.
In particular, these enhanced standards apply in respect of copyright (including the collective management of rights, and rights such as the resale right for visual works, which are not covered by international conventions and which are particularly important for international artists), but also to trade marks, design rights, patents (supplementary protection certificates), the protection of trade secrets and other undisclosed information, plant variety rights and the enforcement of intelletual property rights (including border enforcement).
All EU geographical indications already registered in the EU by end December 2020 (the “stock”) will be protected in the United Kingdom by virtue of the Withdrawal Agreement. No provisions pertaining to the protection of geographical indications that the EU could register in the future could be agreed with the UK.
Will EU firms be allowed to bid for UK public sector contracts?
The Agreement contains some of the most ambitious provisions on public procurement ever entered into by the EU. It goes well beyond commitments under the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), to which the UK is in the process of acceding.
EU companies will be able to participate on an equal footing with UK companies in bids for procurement tenders covered by the agreement, and vice versa.
The Agreement further provides for non-discrimination of EU companies established in the UK (and vice versa) for small-value procurement, i.e. below the threshold of the GPA (from EUR 139,000 to EUR 438,000, depending on the contracting entity, and EUR 5,350,000 for construction services).
The Agreement also allows the use of its bilateral dispute settlement mechanisms for disputes that might arise in regards to the procurement opportunities subject to the GPA.
What is foreseen to support small and medium sized enterprises?
The whole draft Agreement seeks to maintain favorable cross-border trade conditions for SMEs. In addition, it includes specific provisions on facilitating SMEs’ access to the framework created by the future economic partnership, namely via online platforms and dedicated bilateral cooperation.