The promise of Happy New Year might seem to be ironic for those involved in email marketing. Looming over everything is the spectre of Brexit and its fallout. It’s worrying for everyone, including those who are hopeful of a clean break. After all, none of us know what is going to happen.
The calendar, as proposed by the government, or a proportion of it I suppose, is as follows (dates subject to change):
7–27 January – Withdrawal Agreement approved.
January-February – European Parliament consents to the Withdrawal Agreement.
January-March – The Withdrawal Bill is debated and passed.
March – Withdrawal Agreement ratified by EU and UK.
29 March – UK leaves the EU.
2020 or thereabouts – There will be a transition period ending 2020 or at a later time as the Northern Ireland Backstop terms dictate.
If it all goes to plan, the effect on email marketing in particular, and marketing in general, will be minimal during the transition period. The UK will still be in the Single Market and the Customs Union for that period. It is best to say minimal as there are likely to be technical or legal issues that will arise from time to time.
As mentioned previously on these pages, the regulations regarding the way you collect and process your email marketing lists will stay the same subject to any, albeit highly unlikely, requirements imposed by the EU during the transition period.
Now we come to the ifs, and ands.
In the event the above process is not followed, the default position is that the UK leaves the EU with no deal. Or, to put it another way, the government has to do something to stop a no deal exit.
There are a number of processes suggested as to what could happen, but there is no favourite at the moment.
Many businesses are wary, to say the least, of the effects should a no deal happen and are wondering what they can do. If this is you then there is some help available.
The government has produced to series of publications to, in theory, explain matters. The first one is brightly entitled; Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal. See https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal
There are initially 21 chapters, covering everything from Applying for EU-funded programmes to Workplace rights. Of most interest for email marketing will probably be Structuring your business if there’s no Brexit deal. See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/structuring-your-business-if-theres-no-brexit-deal–2/structuring-your-business-if-theres-no-brexit-deal
The EU has published their Preparedness Notices, all 79 of them at the time of writing, in the event of a no deal. They have also published the Contingency Plan, download here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52018DC0880
There is further guidance from the UK Government on data protection law if there’s no deal: See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/data-protection-law-eu-exit/amendments-to-uk-data-protection-law-in-the-event-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal-on-29-march-2019
One significant, although existing, requirement regarding email marketing lists and other data, Article 27 of the GDPR, is that a controller or processor not established in the EEA must designate a representative within the EEA, although there are minor exceptions. The government has said that the requirement will be made reciprocal and controllers based outside the UK must appoint a representative in the UK.