Brexit and Poland
Adam Mickiewicz, often regarded as Poland’s 19th century national poet ( as well as of Lithuania and Belarus), wrote in his Ode to Youth ( 1820) ( using an English translation ) that “ the nectar of life is sweet only when shared with others”.
Some would say that the UK used to revel in its “bad boy” role in the EU and that Poland has taken over much of that mantle but others would say that that is much too simplistic, if not entirely wrong, but that in any event , given the UK’s close historic ties with Poland both in War and Peace, it is relevant to examine how “sweet” the relationship between the UK and Poland is in the post-Brexit era and how close the “nectar of life” continues to run between them.
Certainly, from a trade and investment standpoint, the UK-Polish relationship appears to be developing well. On 18th May 2023, the UK Department for Business & Trade (DBT) published one its of its regular fact sheets on trade and investment between the two countries, which showed that total trade in goods and services ( exports plus imports) between them was £26.9 billion in the four quarters to the end of Quarter 4 (Q4) 2022, an increase of 34.6% or £6.9 billion in current prices from the four quarters to the end of Q4 2021. Of this £26.9 billion:
- Total UK exports to Poland amounted to £8.8 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022 ( an increase of 44.5% or £2.7 billion in current prices, compared to the four quarters to the end of Q4 2021);and
- Total UK imports from Poland amounted to £18.1 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022 ( an increase of 30.3% or £4.2 billion in current prices, compared to the four quarters to the end of Q4 2021).
The DBT fact sheet also showed that Poland was the UK’s 15th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022 accounting for 1.6% of total UK trade.
According to the fact sheet, in 2021, the outward stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) from the UK in Poland was £7.3 billion accounting for 0.4% of the total UK outward FDI stock and, in the same year, the inward stock of FDI in the UK from Poland was £198 million.
On the basis of these figures, there is a large disparity between the trade flows on the one hand and the investments flows on the other between the two countries , which deserves further analysis, and also the figures do not reflect the large and precious investment of human capital that Poles have brought to the UK since the Second World War ( including Poland’s immeasurable contribution to the UK war effort).
What seems clear, however, is that the relationship between the UK and Poland is and will continue to be important in ways that Adam Mickiewicz would certainly recognise.
Brexit and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As from 14th June 2023, the European Parliament , Council and Commission all have their negotiating mandates in place and can start their informal trialogue negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement on the final text of the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Regulation by the end of 2023.
It sees clear that obligations under the Regulation will vary depending upon the potential risk, with some AI practices ( for example, real time biometric identification) being banned completely. New rights will be introduced under the Regulation to provide protection for individuals affected by an AI system. Amendments are also being introduced to the latest version of the draft text of the proposed Regulation to cover foundation models and generative AI, with further discussions anticipated over what is exactly meant by the new requirement to disclose detailed summaries of the training data used.
Brexit and the Identification Doctrine
On 15th June 2023, the UK Government announced plans to reform the identification doctrine for economic crime by bringing senior managers within the scope of who can be considered the “directing mind and will” of a business. According to the UK Government “News Story” of that date, this means that if senior managers commit an economic crime, the company can also be held criminally liable and fined for the offence – this is designed to avoid complex management structures concealing who key decision makers are. The “ News Story” explains that “ in practice, a test will be applied to consider the decision-making power of the senior manager who has committed an economic crime, rather than just their job title. The corporation may then be liable in its own right.” An appropriate amendment was being made to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill to include this proposed change in the law.
The determination of many governments to fight fraud and other economic crime transcends Brexit and the UK Government’s plans to reform the identification doctrine are a staging post along the way.
Brexit and the UK’s Post-Brexit Trading Scheme for Developing Countries (“DCTS” or “the Scheme”)
On 19th June 2023, the UK Government issued a press release confirming that the DCTS would come into force that day – covering 65 countries ( over half in Africa) that are home to over 3.3 billion people. According to the press release, the Scheme “ removes or reduces tariffs and simplifies trading rules so that more products qualify for the scheme, making it more generous than the EU scheme the UK was previously a member of”.
UK International Trade Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, announced the coming into force of the Scheme on a visit to Ethiopia and the press release points out that under the Scheme the expanded rules of origin mean that Ethiopia and 46 other countries will be able to produce components from many more countries, growing their opportunities to trade with the UK. Mr Huddleston describes the Scheme as “ a brilliant example of the UK taking advantage of its status as an independent trading nation”.
According to the press release, from the UK perspective the DCTS will save UK businesses over £770 million per year by removing or cutting tariffs on over £9 billion of imports – “increasing choice for UK consumers and potentially reducing prices on a wide variety of items such as clothes, food and children’s toys – as well as creating opportunities for UK businesses to trade internationally and grow the UK economy”.
An interesting initiative!
By David Glass, Corporate and Commercial Law Specialist