PwC: Life beyond Brexit

By Janet Brice
Pave the way for a productive and profitable UK-EU relationship with PwC’s practical guide on goods, people and data...

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an historic Christmas Eve statement that a deal had finally been struck with the European Union and he had ‘got Brexit done’ – but PricewaterhouseCoopers warn businesses this is no time to relax as the real work now begins to navigate the changes and form new global partnerships.

The UK formally left the EU on January 1, 2021 after four years of negotiation which resulted in Johnson striking the deal which, although welcomed by consultants, PwC, will also bring challenges to companies brought on by the “fine print of the deal”.

“The agreement of a deal is definitely very good news, but we must remind ourselves that significant change is coming - organisations must still be able to operate outside the EU Customs Union and Single Market which will impact the movement of goods, people and data,” comment PwC.  

“With the transition period now over, and a deal agreed, organisations’ must renew their efforts to manage this new way of working,” says PwC who has produced the new paper, Deal done but disruption still to come?

The report takes a look at how the changes will affect businesses in 2021 with a focus on the movement of goods, new immigration rules (how this will impact business travel) and the movement of data.

Movement of goods

Goods moving between the UK and EU are now subject to customs declarations and a new UK Border Operating Model is in place. New procedures for controlled goods and changes to VAT also apply.  

“There may also be changes to tariffs for business between the UK and other non-EU countries depending on the other trade agreements and the implications of WTO rules and the UK Global tariff. From 1 January, this will all impact supply chains and buyer behaviours,” comments PwC.

Movement of people

New immigration rules will impact business travel and the different permissions and documentation needed to carry out work while in the 27 EU member states. 

“It also means that employing EU nationals without settled status will get more complicated and costly for UK businesses. Practical things that companies should be doing now, if they haven’t already, include applying for a sponsorship licence and communicating with eligible staff about applying to the EU Settlement Scheme,” comment PwC.

Movement of data

PwC points out that there are gaps in some organisations’ data protection and privacy plans. 

“GDPR protects personal data - whether relating to employees, customers, or suppliers - moving to countries outside of the EU and EEA unless covered by an adequacy decision, an appropriate safeguard or an exception, which the UK doesn’t yet have. 

“Businesses need to understand where the personal data they rely on originates, how it moves around their organisation, and where it is stored. They should update their privacy notices and contracts to make sure data flows remain compliant if the decision doesn’t go in the UK’s favour,” says the report. 

PwC acknowledge it is a challenging time for businesses navigating the changes triggered by Brexit and the pandemic but urge businesses to do all they can to minimise disruption this year to “give them the best chance of making the most of the new UK-EU relationship”. 

Read more

Click here for PwC’s free tool on data protection

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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