Digital is a fast evolving, innovative, sector that is driving economic transformation across the world. Digital sectors contributed £116.5 billion to the UK economy in 2016, representing 6.7 percent of GVA. Facilitating growth and removing barriers will drive competitiveness and help the UK tap into the potential from the top ten largest economies of the world, estimated by one study to be worth £890 billion. It will be particularly important to have domestic regulatory flexibility, to ensure the UK can respond nimbly to new developments, and be at the forefront of emerging technologies.
Digital services trade between the UK and the EU will continue to be important, as both try to capitalise on the growth of digital technologies globally. While the UK will not be a part of the EU’s Digital Single Market, the UK wants to develop an ambitious policy on digital trade with the EU, as well as globally. The UK, therefore, proposes a digital relationship that covers:.
- digital trade and e-commerce;
- telecommunications and digital infrastructure;
- digital technology; and
The UK’s proposals should provide a framework for enduring solutions, which are sufficiently agile and flexible, reflecting the fast evolving and innovative characteristics of the sector. The UK also proposes arrangements to ensure the continued free flows of personal data between the UK and the EU. The UK believes the EU’s adequacy framework provides the right starting point for these arrangements but wants to go beyond this to allow ongoing cooperation between data protection authorities. This is set out in detail in another section.
Digital trade and e-commerce
The global digital economy is built on the ability to collect, share and process data. This underpins not just digital trade but all trade flows. Any disruption in cross-border data flows would, therefore, be economically costly while unnecessary barriers, such as the unjustified localisation of data, could also have a serious impact on future prosperity.
The UK’s proposals would include:
- ensuring cross-border data flows, providing for the removal and prevention of barriers to the flow of data across borders;
- protecting the free, open and secure internet, working with EU partners to lead the global effort to ensure that the internet is safe and open; and
- recognising equivalent forms of electronic ID and authentication, ensuring that these are secure, trustworthy and easy to use across borders.
Telecommunications and digital infrastructure
Telecommunications services provide key digital infrastructure that society depends on to communicate and operate globally. In the UK, telecoms contributed £30 billion of GVA in 201628, with exports of services to the EU in the sector worth £2.7 billion in 2015 and imports worth £3.4 billion.
The UK and the EU have a joint history of regulatory innovation in telecommunications in areas such as competition reform and net neutrality. This shared regulatory vision has promoted consumer benefits, competition, and investment. The UK, therefore, proposes a. joint commitments to an open and liberalised electronic communications sector allowing for fair, equal and competitive access for UK and EU businesses to public telecoms services and networks; and. continuing to share cyber threat information to ensure the UK’s and the EU’s infrastructure is robust, resilient and able to adapt to evolving threats online or to digital infrastructure.
The UK believes that trade should promote the development of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), and notes that they are vulnerable to non-tariff barriers. New and emerging technologies are also creating new and shared challenges. The UK, therefore, proposes exploring new models for regulatory cooperation between the UK and the EU to tackle these shared challenges and advance shared objectives in the future.
For example, the European Commission recently committed to set up a European AI Alliance to develop draft ethics guidelines by the end of 2018. After the UK withdraws from the EU, the UK’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation intends to participate in this Alliance, alongside its European partners.
The audiovisual sector is both economically and culturally important to the UK and the EU. The UK’s creative hub contributes significantly to the development of products that are much in demand by European consumers.
The UK is leaving the Single Market. As a result, the “country of origin” principle, in which a company based in one Member State can be licensed by a national regulator and broadcast into any other Member State, will no longer apply. The UK is seeking the best possible arrangements for this sector.
The UK’s commitments to the provision of Irish language broadcasting in Northern Ireland by RTE and TG4, as set out in the Belfast (“Good Friday”) Agreement and a subsequent Memorandum of Understanding with the Irish Government, will be guaranteed through UK statutory and domestic provisions.
European Works is a system designed to promote domestic European production and preserve cultural identity. The European Works content quota applies to works which originate in the Member States and non-EU European countries which are party to the European Convention on Transfrontier Television of the Council of Europe (CTT).
This requires broadcasters to reserve a certain amount of airtime for European works. In the case of on-demand services, providers must promote the production of and access to European works.
As confirmed in the EU’s “Notice to Stakeholders” in the field of audiovisual media services, works originating in the UK will continue to be classed as European works. The UK’s position as a party to the CTT will not be affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and therefore the UK will continue to be able to treat audiovisual works originating in the EU as European works.