The UK is one of a handful of nations that haven’t yet signed up to the EU’s so-called exit deal, and the government is now grappling with how to ensure that technology companies are ready to move jobs and operations to other EU countries.
The UK is already a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which was formed by the EU in 2005 to help it deal with the consequences of the financial crisis and other events that affected trade.
A government-commissioned report, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, suggests the UK will not have to change its relationship with the EU to join EFTA in 2021, but that it will need to do so as part of a wider transition.
As part of the deal, the UK has to allow EU-based firms to operate in the UK.
The Brexit process is still in its early stages, with many EU countries still holding out on signing up to a deal and Britain having to negotiate its own exit deal with other EU members.
One of the biggest challenges facing the government will be finding ways to secure the best trade deals, according to Professor John Cridland of the Centre for Global Development, who has been a key advisor to the UK government.
“The biggest challenge is that the government has not been able to get much of the technology sector to sign up,” he told the FT.
It will be the first time the UK is outside the EU, which means the government faces a difficult task finding the right deals.
Even before the Brexit vote, the tech sector had been slow to fully adapt to the Brexit process.
The UK has only just started trading with other nations, so there has been little to no movement on the technology front.
However, the new government has already been pushing the tech industry to join up.
Last month, it announced a “significant” investment in the sector, and in January it set out plans to set up a new national innovation hub, which is expected to attract tech companies from around the world to London.
There are also plans to introduce the UK to the European Union’s new “digital single market” and its “cloud and cloud services” directive, which will mean that firms will be able to trade across the bloc without having to go through the UK, according the government.