A recently released document which outlines proposals for a brand new deal with the EU was rather warmly welcomed by the Law Society of England and Wales in another move towards a so-called ‘soft-Brexit’.
Joe Egan, then President of the Law Society, said: “Since the Brexit vote on 23rd June 2016, we have been calling for professional qualifications to be recognised, for mutual recognition and enforcement of court judgements and to maintain collaboration in policy, security and criminal justice arrangements.”
An open letter to the Prime Minister from members of the Professional and Business Services Council (PBSC) warned that failure to secure such a deal would severely damage the ability of firms to work across the EU and would put some of the UK’s most important sectors “at a distinct competitive disadvantage”.
The letter brings light to the impressively staggering fact that the Professional Services sector employs 4.6 million people and contributes a whopping £188bn each year in gross value to the UK, which is more than the manufacturing, mining and extraction industries combined.
The Council’s business Chair, Nick Owen, said: “We underpin the integrity of the markets and support business confidence… We are a key reason why people all over the world come to transact and resolve disputes in our country.”
We must NOT deprive our country of excellent professional services
With these beliefs and principles at the forefront of their minds, the PBSC letter states that it is vital to carry on serving clients and support the wider economy after the UK officially leaves the EU.
This will require mutual recognition of professional qualifications, products and operating licences; mutual recognition of the regulatory frameworks and regulators, from audio-visual media policy laws to data protection laws; Mutual recognition of judgements so that deals across EU27 nations can proceed with legal certainty; and the ability to educate and recruit the best possible workers from overseas, whether from the EU or further afar.
The demands also include the need to continue co-operation in areas that facilitate trade e.g. data sharing, and also the need to maintain rules that allow experts to fly in and out so they can advise firms EU-wide.
The letter emphasises the importance of these rules, “Failing to negotiate these elements would impair our ability to provide our services with the same range, depth and speed our clients around the world experience today, damaging their businesses and putting our sectors at a distinct competitive disadvantage.”
It also acknowledges that with the balance of trade in goods in its favour, the EU is likely to try to prioritise this in negotiations. While the UK does need to make sure it gets the best deal possible regarding professional and other services, considering our relative strengths and current competitive position.