As Theresa May prepares to address the EU27 tomorrow, and the UK prepares to leave the EU on 29th March 2019, there are still many unanswered questions within the UK’s scientific and technical industries.
Regulation of biocidal products
A few days ago, the government issued a new notice via the Health and Safety Executive, “to outline the arrangements that would come into force to regulate chemicals in the unlikely event the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 with no agreement in place, with respect to the Biocidal Products Regulation (EU) No 528/2012 (BPR).”[i]
If there’s no deal, after March 2019:
- The UK would establish an independent standalone biocidal products regime.
- Companies wishing to apply for an active substance to be approved or for a biocidal product to be authorised in the UK would apply to HSE, instead of ECHA.
- Active substance approvals and biocidal product authorisations would be UK-specific.
- In the longer term HSE would build an IT system for handling applications, with interim arrangements for receiving and processing applications put in place from exit day while it is developed.
You can find related documents via the same webpage, providing some information on regulating chemicals, packaging and labelling, hazardous chemicals, pesticides and more. However, similar to the above, there is no definite answer or system in place if no deal can be reached.
Why has no deal been agreed?
The UK has a 310-mile land border with the EU – between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member state. Although Northern Ireland might not have appeared as a main issue during the referendum, it has become a sticking point in the Brexit talks.
Neither side can agree on a way to move forward, without reverting to checkpoints, towers, customs posts and surveillance cameras at the border, which nobody wants, as it might disrupt the free cross-border flow of trade and people.
The EU are favouring keeping Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and single market (Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU), if no other solution is found, but Theresa May and the DUP will not accept that.
Theresa May suggests that her Chequers plan would solve the problem, but the EU doesn’t like her Chequers plan.
The EU Summit is taking place this week and at the European Council working dinner on 17 October, EU27 leaders will review the state of the negotiations with the UK. Theresa May will address EU leaders prior to the dinner, and there is a meeting of leaders pencilled in for the 17th and 18th November, to finalise the outline of the future relationship between the UK and EU.
What are the greater implications for our industry?
The Royal Society has published a factsheet, titled: “No-deal” is a bad deal for science. It outlines the main elements required for a positive deal for the UK science industry. Read it here:
Existing trade agreements
“Existing agreements that deliver 12 per cent of the UK’s total trade will be lost if there is a no-deal Brexit, the government has admitted. Trade agreements enjoyed with scores of other countries, through EU membership, will ‘cease to apply’ if the UK crashes out of the EU next March.
The government said it would attempt to replicate the deals ‘as soon as possible thereafter’ – but admitted those ‘third countries’ would have leverage to demand better terms.”[ii]
EU funding for science
The BBC reported that “the campaign group Scientists for EU has studied the Brexit technical notes released by the government. One of the documents states the UK would no longer be eligible for three of the EU’s major funding programmes.
UK scientists have been highly successful at bidding for European research grants, winning 4.6bn euros since 2014 from the EU’s Horizon 2020 science programme. Three related research programmes are only open to EU countries, as the government’s technical briefing makes clear, and these can be highly valuable.
The European Research Council (ERC) issues prestigious grants which have so far been worth a total of €1.29bn to the UK. Another set of grants, known as Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions, have totalled nearly €0.7bn for researchers here. A third programme, SME instrument grants, which are designed to encourage small innovative businesses, has seen nearly 140m euros heading to the UK.
According to Dr Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for EU, a non-deal Brexit ‘would mean losing over half a billion a year in high value grants’.
He explained: ‘No deal would wreck nearly half the funding we’re eligible for, it would be absolutely devastating.’”
EU workers in the UK
In 2016, EU nationals contributed 7% (2.2 million +/- 0.1 million) of the UK labour market, although the figures are likely to be slightly higher for our science and technical industries. Our long-established network of scientific and technical industry specialists can certainly affirm that EU chemists and scientists make an outstanding contribution to the UK market.
In sectors where specific skill sets are in high demand, Science Solutions Recruitment support UK businesses to recruit from the EU in order to stay at the forefront of innovation and production in their industry.
There is a very real recruitment challenge that the science community is now facing with the dwindling number of skilled workers in certain areas and scarcity of skills in others, as well as the impact these will have on future development across the wider science sector in general.
Combine this reduction in available skills with changing regional demographics, technological evolution and a world prone to much more rapid political, economic and social change and attracting talent becomes an even more significant challenge.
The UK government has issued information and guidance on applying for ‘settled status’, for those EU workers already in the UK[iii], although it remains unclear what the procedure will be following Brexit, for highly-skilled scientists who wish to apply to work in the UK.
Our take on Brexit
At Science Solutions, we are continuing to see EU scientists apply for those hard-to-fill jobs, and they so far seem unphased by the uncertainties of the next few years. Each month, we continue to support EU chemists and scientists with their applications to UK companies and each month we support UK companies to secure the best talent for roles where specific skills are difficult to find. The globalisation of communication undeniably helps.
Despite the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, recently saying that the government did not anticipate allowing scientists, doctors or other highly skilled workers to have an automatic right to come and work in the UK following Brexit[iv], we remain optimistic that where shortage skill sets are in demand, we will continue to expand our network and overcome any post-Brexit barriers to ensure that UK businesses continue to flourish.
If you would like support or advice as an EU worker, or as a UK business concerned about the possible effects on your workforce, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our industry experts at Science Solutions Recruitment:
- Cosmetics, personal care, household and FMCG expert: Daniel Lloyd 01524 237286 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/danlloydsciencesr/) or Stephanie Houghton 01925 377823 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniesciencesr/)
- Pharmaceutical industry expert: Simon Fowler 01925 377820 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonfowlersciencesolutions/) or Gareth Gooley 01925 377818 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/garethgooleysciencesr/)
- Medical devices and diagnostics: Joseph Mulligan 0116 216 8469 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephsciencesr/)
- Speciality chemicals: Andrew Corness 01925 377816 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/andysciencesr/) or Paul Mears 01925 377817 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmears/)
- Polymers and materials science: Darren Hawley 01524 237287 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/darrenhawleysciencesr/)
- Biotechnology: Chris Morris 01925 377821 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrismorrissciencesr/)
- Science Solutions HR and compliance: Liz Corness 01925 377819 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizsciencesr/)
All the very best for the remainder of 2018, from the team at Science Solutions Recruitment.
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