Hire Association Europe and Event Hire Association (HAE EHA) has been supporting its members to navigate the changes caused by Brexit, reassuring the industry and providing guidance on the measures that need to be taken by businesses in hire and construction.
Ever since the nation woke up to the news that the UK had voted to leave the European Union, views about the impact this might have within the construction and hire industries have remained mixed. However, the reality is that on completing the transition period on December 31st 2020, the UK became a fully sovereign nation and businesses need to move forward and navigate the changes this entails.
Aside from the advantages our membership of the EU provided, it did mean we were more restricted in what we could do, and the UK market to some extent became slightly sluggish and bloated when it got involved in the single market. The new trading arrangements should allow for a much more agile response when opportunities come along.
With the UK now having made trade deals with more than 60 countries or territories, including Japan (value to the UK in 2018 £29.1bn), Switzerland (£32.4bn), Iceland and Norway (£26.8bn) and South Korea (£14.8bn), the future is looking bright, as the UK is busy exercising the flexibility it has gained by not being part of a rigid trading bloc.
Life outside the EU should not be too disruptive to the hire and construction industries in the long term. Although there has been some initial disruption at ports regarding the new rules concerning the import and export of equipment, the government is committed to making sure this runs smoothly going forward. Those involved with markets abroad may need to declare more of the components used as duty could be calculated and payable when exporting to Europe.
In terms of construction products regulations, following the end of the transition period, UK designated standards have remained identical to those under the EU regime, so there will be no change for businesses on standards that must be met. However, UK products that would have originally needed a ‘CE’ marking will now bear ‘UKCA’ marking, or ‘UKNI’ in Northern Ireland.
Another point to bear in mind post-Brexit is that the UK now comes under UK GDPR regulations rather than the EU version. This affects every hire and construction business in the country, and those with offices overseas need to ensure that they are compliant with the regulations concerning the transfer of personal data into and out of the UK.
Currently the UK has been granted a six-month exemption so that personal data can continue to flow back and forth between the EU and UK pending an adequacy ruling. Adequacy is a test applied by the EC to determine whether third countries (like the UK) are judged to have similar data protection rights as the EU. If the UK is granted ‘adequacy’ the free flow of personal data will continue within the European Economic Area (EEA) without any new restrictions – subject to compliance with UK GDPR.
HAE EHA has produced a series of Brexit preparation webinars as well as one specifically dedicated to UK GDPR, which can be accessed on the HAE EHA website.