Even after Brexit, the UK and Europe need to work together very closely with cybersecurity a key area, according to Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator on Brexit at the European Commission.
The UK’s twice-delayed departure from the European Union is still dependent on an exit deal being agreed by Parliament. Once this is done, the country currently has until the end of 2020 to agree on its future relationship with Europe.
“Brexit is not only about the divorce: with so many under-estimated consequences, it is also about building a new partnership with the UK,” said Barnier, speaking at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon. “Even when our deal is ratified, that will not be the end of the story. We need to keep in mind that orderly withdrawal is a step — a necessary step, but it is not the destination.”
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Any new agreement between the EU and UK will be based both on trade and on ensuring mutual security, Barnier said, noting that the UK and Europe will need to cooperate against new threats — cybersecurity in particular.
“Our new partnership should include the exchange of information on cyber incidents, attackers’ techniques, threat analysis and best practice, including when those target the correct functioning of democratic systems,” said Barnier.
“Crucially, we need to have capacity to respond jointly to such attacks,” he said.
Barnier also warned that while Europe led the first industrial revolution, it is now falling behind. “Today in the twenty-first century the US and China are in the lead. If we in Europe do not act now, the future of our industry our jobs, personal data and ethical standards will be made in Washington and Beijing,” he said.
Barnier also made his feelings about Brexit clear: “Let me be frank. Until now no-one has ever managed to explain to me the added value of Brexit. Not even Nigel Farage.”
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