Brexit is a news-grabbing and complex subject, not just for the UK but also for the EU and with wider implications around the world. It is a vast political and constitutional change that will certainly affect the UK population and economy, with possible ramifications for many others as well. Like all sectors of the economy, the security industry will be watching the forthcoming negotiations very closely indeed.
The first thing to remember is that at this stage nobody truly knows what the outcome will be! Neither the UK or various EU Governments, nor economic experts (save those with a reliable crystal ball!) can predict the minute level of detail involved in the outcome.
However, what everyone with a vested interest needs to see is that their needs are considered in the negotiations and the security industry is no different. As an important domestic and international trade sector, I very much hope that the people who will be negotiating the UK exit from the EU understand the needs of the security sector and have this in mind when they reach the negotiating table.
To my mind, one of the biggest dangers in the forthcoming trade negotiations will be if the politicians and diplomats aren’t mindful of regulations and perhaps more importantly, the harmonisation of regulations with the EU. Put simply, if the UK does not continue to adopt EU approved regulations and standards there could very easily develop non-tariff trade barriers.
I am specifically thinking about parity in technology and standards. To a large extent, the demand for open systems is self-regulating security technology, but if official standards differ we could find the UK and its EU cousins taking a different path.
Just look at the 3-pin power sockets in use in the UK – arguably they are superior to the standard EU 2-pin socket, but it can still cause a headache for compatibility moving between different countries! Whilst it’s good to have freedom to find the best technology solution, if I swap my engineering hat for my sales one, I also realise that commercially it can have tough consequences. I genuinely hope this doesn’t happen.
Behind the scenes there is a lot of work going on of course. The UK Government and its commercial advisers will doubtless be highly aware of the complexities ahead and will be looking for steerage by expert industry groups from across the economic spectrum for advice.
The BSIA (British Security Industry Association) is at the forefront of promoting the security industry during the Brexit process, working hard to ensure our politicians understand the potential minefield of making deals without understanding the ramifications.
As the Chairman of the BSIA Export Council I can report that our section is heavily preoccupied by the potential legislation and fallout from Brexit negotiations. Our agenda is strictly to assist and educate ‘the powers that be’ on how to represent the best interests of the UK security sector and its lucrative export markets. We are very carefully monitoring how proposed legislation will affect business and trade and, where appropriate, lobbying the Government if we see potential pitfalls or opportunities.
Brexit is quite possibly one of the biggest political and commercial shake ups we will see in the UK in our lifetime. It is essential that our politicians secure the best deal for the UK and allow the security industry to continue being the considerable success it has been (and has the potential to be) in the future.
John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi