How Brexit will affect businesses and data privacy

The sharing of personal data between EU member states and the UK is vital for business supply chains to function and public authorities to deliver effective public services.

Personal data will continue to flow until the end of this year when a longer term solution will be put in place. 

However in the event of ‘no deal’, EU law will require additional measures to be put in place by UK companies when personal data is transferred from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the UK, in order to make them lawful.

This will be worked out during the transition period, which begins immediately after Brexit day.

During this period, the UK will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same.

It’s important to understand that these changes will only occur after the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020; until that time, the EU will continue to apply GDPR as though the UK is an EU member state.

The transition period is meant to give both sides some breathing space while a new free trade agreement is negotiated.

This is needed because the UK will leave the single market and customs union at the end of the transition. A free trade agreement allows goods to move around the EU without checks or extra charges.

If a new one cannot be agreed in time, then the UK faces the prospect of having to trade with no deal in place. That would mean tariffs (taxes) on UK goods travelling to the EU and other trade barriers.

Aside from trade, many other aspects of the future UK-EU relationship will also need to be decided such as data sharing.


The UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT tomorrow.

The withdrawal agreement was formally signed by Boris Johnson and EU leaders last week. Earlier this month, Parliament voted by a majority of 99 – in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

The UK’s departure tomorrow will be followed by an 11-month transition period, during which the UK will continue to follow EU rules. The moment is set to be officially marked in London with a light show in Downing Street and a speech from the prime minister. A special 50p coin will also enter circulation to mark the occasion.

About Brexit

The EU is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries. It allows free trade, which means goods can move between member countries without any checks or extra charges. The EU also allows free movement of people, to live and work in whichever country they choose.

The UK joined in 1973 (when it was known as the European Economic Community) and it will be the first member state to withdraw.

After the UK formally leaves the EU, there is still a lot to talk about and months of negotiation will follow.

While the UK has agreed the terms of its EU departure, both sides still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.


Overall, Brexit will have a huge effect on many businesses; not just in the UK and EU, but around the world. One of the effects relating to data protection and GDPR is that the position in respect of the Data Protection Representative obligation will be altered for many organisations.

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