UK government publishes post-Brexit policy document

February 8, 2022

The UK government has published a policy document on the opportunities it perceives exist for the UK after leaving the EU. More generally, it wants a renewed regulatory framework, based on its principles for regulation. In addition, there are several announcements which will be of interest to technology lawyers. These are mainly contained in the section “Science, Data and Technology” and cover issues such as research and development, quantum technology, digital economy, digital technology in trade, online safety, cyber and product security and life sciences. However, there are other categories such as space, the future of transport, the automotive industry and achieving net zero.

Many of the items have already been announced and have been covered already by SCL. Some of the key announcements include: 

  • Setting out a new UK pro-competition regime for digital markets. A new Digital Markets Unit has been set up within the Competition and Markets Authority on 7 April 2021 and the government will legislate to give it the powers to oversee and enforce the regime when parliamentary time allows. 
  • Developing a pro-innovation approach to artificial intelligence regulation.
  • Reviewing the framework for Standard Essential Patents. The government has launched a call for views to understand how the UK IP system supports British innovation and promotes competition in this area.
  • Reforming data laws and setting a new direction for data regulation. The government aims to have a more agile and adaptable data regime to help to drive growth, innovation and competition across the country.
  • Taking action to ensure the Payment Services legislation is fit for purpose and supports UK innovation and Open Banking. 
  • Reviewing the UK’s product safety regime.
  • The government will introduce digital driving licences, test certificates and MOT testing, doing away with paper test certificates.
  • The UK is agreeing digital provisions in new trade deals, including with Japan and the Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore.
  • The government wants to strike new data adequacy partnerships.
  • It also wants to digitalise trade documents.
  • Review digital identities regulation and enable a secure independent digital identity marketplace based on a framework of standards, governance and legislation, reshaping its approach to trust services such as e-signatures, e-seals and time stamps.
  • The introduction of the Online Safety Bill and the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, as well as the review of the Network and Information Systems Regulations.
  • The government is establishing a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology to leverage expertise from across the UK’s regions and accelerate the fintech sector’s growth. It is bringing crypto-asset promotions into regulation and has consulted on a new regime for stablecoins to make sure they meet the same minimum standards of other payment methods. The Financial Conduct Authority will take forward a ‘scale box’ to help fintech firms grow.
  • A new legal framework will be introduced for autonomous vehicles and autonomous surface ships. It will also bring forward measures to support the development of the drone and Advanced Air Mobility industry.

The document also includes proposals on legal services.

In addition, the government has announced a review of retained EU law. It says “we are taking steps to ensure that any retained EU law on the UK statute book meets the UK’s priorities for unlocking growth and is tailored for the UK market”. It intends to amend, replace, or repeal all the retained EU law that is not right for the UK. It also wants to benefit businesses by cutting EU red tape. Alongside this, the European Scrutiny Committee is carrying out an inquiry until 14 March 2022.