The last day of January is when we will leave the EU. It is, whatever your wishes, a momentous day, not only politically, but many suggest there might be a threat to business interests, including email marketing.
When the EU signs off the Withdrawal Agreement there will be an interval that has been called the Transition Period. From a political point of view there will be significant change. The UK will not be represented at the EU. We will have no MEPs and no input in the EU’s legislative processes apart from some very minor provisions included in the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Transition Period will continue until the end of 2020. It can be extended until 2021 or even 2022, although the decision must be taken by both the UK and the EU by June 2020. We have been told by the government that under no circumstance will the Transition Period go beyond 2020.
The purpose of the Transition Period is to negotiate our future relationship with the EU. For the purposes of email marketing, however, nothing will, in the initial stages, change. You can go on doing what you are doing now, and indeed should, particularly conforming to the requirements of GDPR.
The first significant date is 25 February when the EU General Affairs Council signs off the mandate on our future relationship with the EU, so signalling that the negotiations can start. The main negotiations will run from March to October. 30 June is the last possible date for an agreement between the UK and EU to extend the negotiations beyond 2020.
The Data Adequacy Decision is due at the end of December 2020. see paras 8, 9 and 10 of the Political Declaration below.
Paras 38, 39 and 40 of the Political Declaration, give sparse details of the condition the negotiators will work towards in digital commerce. This will affect email marketing. The words sound great, but confirm very little. However, the general feeling of commentators is that the GDPR will, of necessity, be retained in UK legislation.
Also due at the end of December are the details of the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol.
The Government is adamant that the Transition Period will not be extended. Whether this gives sufficient time to conclude negotiations will be revealed in due course.
With a clear timeline of the process of the Transitional Agreement, it would appear that confidence in the market has received a bit of a boost, with 23% of companies surveyed in recent research seeing budget growth. Even the 58% which saw no change is a positive given the 5% drop shown in the run up to Christmas.
The bad news for email marketing is that confirmed results of the negotiations will be a long time coming. The good news is that if all goes according to plan, although some might feel this requires a leap of faith, there should be minimal changes to our procedures.
What we must do is continue to monitor the situation as it, albeit slowly, evolves.