Event Security

15th January 2021

The Hot Topic – How will BREXIT Affect the Security and Defence Sector?

After months of discussions and negotiations, with speculation of a no deal BREXIT, the UK and the European Union came to an agreement, setting out a deal which came into effect on the 31st of December 2020.

This trade deal allows the UK to form a future relationship outside of the EU, but what exactly were the fears if Great Britain had left with a no-deal?

There were a multitude of worries around a no deal BREXIT including:

  • Increasing prices and trading through the World Trade Organisation,
  • Imposed tariffs putting industries under pressure,
  • Longer queues for lorries with additional border checks,
  • And co-operation on security and data-sharing could have become more difficult, causing issues with cross-border investigations.

However, even with a trade deal in place and the UK having left the EU, there are still some uncertainties for some industries on what the impact will look like for them in the coming months. Looking specifically at the Security and Defence sector as large changes involve a major overhaul of processes and procedures. So, we want to know what were the reservations from the Security Industry for a no deal and how do they compare to the trade deal the UK has received?

High Security Fencing Defence

One of the main uncertainties for the Defence Sector and a no deal BREXIT was the impact it would have on their supply chains. Like many industries the Security and Defence Sector relies on international trade and any additional costs or pressures would have caused issues. Predictions were made that rising costs were coming, paired with the considerable delays with border checks and control. These predictions were solely on the premise of a no deal BREXIT… But according to BBC News, the deal states “there will be no taxes on goods (tariffs) or limits on the amount that can be traded (quotas) between the UK and EU from 1st January.” This means that the fears of increasing prices have been avoided having a positive impact on the Security Industry. However, there are new procedures being put in place at the borders which could result in some disruption, but this is compared to the forecasted chaos that many were believing a no deal would cause.

Whilst the deal states there won’t be tariffs or quotas on trading goods, the second worry the Security Industry had, was how future communication and sharing security information with access to databases would work in relation to possible threats? When the UK remained in the EU, they had full access to security databases as well as being a member of Europol. According to BBC News, the fear of a no-deal would “mean cutting off co-operation on the fight against shared threats, from crime, cyber-crime to violent extremism and terrorism.”

However, even with the deal in place the UK is no longer a member of Europol and will not have automatic access to the security databases and information they once hadSo, what will happen in terms of relationships and communication in the future?

As stated before, under the new trade deal the UK is no longer a part of Europol, which historically Britain had a leading role in. This agency co-ordinates cross-border police co-operation like human trafficking and counter-terrorism measures. The UK co-operates with European partners on hundreds of cross-border criminal and terrorism investigations, and leaving Europol means re-organising hundreds of these processes with new arrangements for each country.

Although all is not lost, as thankfully communication will not cease when it comes to this for the UK security sector. Though the UK is not a member, it will still have a presence within the headquarters, in a similar arrangement to the US. According to INews, the UK will have “an ‘associate’ relationship with Europol, in which it cannot use all its investigatory powers, and has no power to influence the organisation.” This means Britain will still have a close operational relationship regarding security information and potential threats, but this does come with its limitations and barriers.

When we look at the actual impact of BREXIT on the security and defence sector compared to the predicted outcome of a no deal, the industry isn’t facing much disruption thanks to the trade deal the Government negotiated. However, we’re only one month into leaving, and things can changeSo, the question is; will there be any future issues that may arise and how could this affect the security and defence industry?