The TCA is unique and is new territory as unusually it is designed to facilitate two economies moving further apart. Despite being 1246 pages long – there are key areas that are still being negotiated that will impact London specifically and urgent decisions are needed if we are to keep competitive.
So, what are the key issues that will impact London as we move forward with our new EU relationship?
The services sector
There are some general commitments on market access for services, but provisions are subject to a long list of exceptions – which vary by sector and member state. The international operating environment for service businesses has changed and there are a number of barriers to competing in the single market from a UK base – so service businesses in London will need to really understand this new landscape in order to continue to be successful and grow.
There is yet to be a decision on data adequacy, but temporary measures have been put in place for up to six months. This is a huge issue for the UK which is responsible for 12% of total global cross border data flows. Getting agreement and certainty soon is vital to avoid disruption to our digital and technology sector and to ensure we continue to lead the field in this area.
Arguably one of our most successful exports, our FS and FinTech sectors employs more than 40,000 people in the capital and are vital to London’s economy. With FinTech so rapidly evolving it is increasingly closely tied to research coming out of the universities. Both the EU and UK are looking to negotiate a separate memorandum of understanding and the Government are currently conducting a large FinTech review. As the FinTech capital of the world, London has a vital role in driving the agenda in this space for the benefit of the entire UK, but we need to keep up momentum to hold onto our top position in this field.
The talent agenda
It has always been the depth and diversity of our people that has kept London competitive. From the brightest PhD students, to exciting entrepreneurs or top financial experts, talent mobility will be important as we look to recover from the global pandemic. Valuable collaborations with the likes of the Horizon programme which is vital to our higher education institutions will continue, but as the pandemic forces changes to the way higher education is delivered globally, we must continue to attract the brightest to our top London institutions. Showcasing how great our city is will be important to keep reminding people why they would choose London over other global cities. We need to persuade people to be here, and businesses to set up here. Keeping the immigration debate live on talent, mobility and access for students will be important in a post -Brexit labour market.
London is one of the top global cities, leading the way in legal services, our financial sector, our innovative technology businesses, our higher education institutions and our world class arts and cultural attractions. Our success is a result of clear strategies and policies designed to keep us competitive over the last 30 years. As we move to a post-pandemic world, working our way through our new relationship with our EU neighbours, we need ambition and clear strategies to keep our place in the world’s leading global cities. In order to set the right direction, we must continue to work together, supporting policies that champion and support the competitiveness of London, for the benefit of the entire UK.