We don’t only trade goods with the EU; we trade services too. It’s vital to our economy; the EU is the UK’s largest export market for services, accounting for 41% of all service exports. However, the Government have given services insufficient priority during the negotiations, meaning that sectors from law to engineering will be hit by barriers after the 31st December.
It’s not just an issue for financial and legal services. Companies that have contracts to supply and maintain equipment in an EU country, such as a UK-made MRI scanner in France (where an engineer would be sent out to fix it within a day if necessary) will face more barriers in carrying out this kind of business. Part of the problem is that the Government haven’t secured mutual recognition of qualifications, meaning that qualified engineers and technicians in the UK may not be recognised to work in the EU from the 1st January.
I pressed the International Trade Secretary to prioritise this, whether or not the Government reach a deal with in the coming weeks. After January, our trading relationship with other European countries will be her responsibility, and she must ensure that these crucial sectors can work across the EU to protect jobs, businesses and communities. Unfortunately she didn’t seem to understand the issue, let alone answer the question.