The United Kingdom’s exit away from the European Union is anticipated to take place on 31 October 2019, and the exit will likely be on a “no-deal” basis.

Should the UK leave the EU without a trade agreement, the UK will no longer be a part of the single market economy of the EU. This will have an impact on various legislation which currently exists in the UK, that relates explicitly to EU legislation or runs concurrently with EU legislation. This is particularly true for IT and telecommunications laws and regulations.

EU Directives and Legislation

Currently, there are various EU directives in place for electronic communications within the EU, and it is a requirement of EU nations that they incorporate these directives into their legislation. However, upon exiting the EU, the UK would be free to amend or create new legislation to supersede any legislation implemented under the EU.

All legislation which has been enacted to give effect to the EU directives and the Regulatory Framework in the UK will still continue to be law until, or unless, repealed and replaced. The legislation in place will have the provisions referring to the EU, EU legislation and institutions and processes removed.

OFCOM

As a result of Brexit, OFCOM (Office of Communications) will no longer need to enforce or ensure compliance with EU legislation and will focus on purely enforcing local legislation and codes of practice.

Impact on Telecommunications Companies

  • UK companies; currently, any company in the UK may provide telecommunication services throughout the EU, provided that they comply with any necessary local laws. Strictly speaking, this will not be possible after Brexit.
  • EU companies; the opposite will apply to EU companies operating or offering services in the UK. They will no longer have an automatic right to provide services within the UK after Brexit.
  • Roaming; currently, roaming charges do not apply between EU member states. After Brexit, roaming charges or additional fees will likely apply.

This is a source of concern for customers in either jurisdiction. The numerous EU citizens working in the United Kingdom, and the myriad of UK citizens working in EU member states, could potentially have to either purchase separate sim cards and contracts or incur significant charges.