Brexit trade and health

UK and European flag

The NHS perspective on Brexit, trade and health was presented by our European Office director Elisabetta Zanon, at a recent event in Brussels.

The event, organised by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the University of Manchester and the Economic and Social Research Council, aimed to draw attention to the fact that Brexit will affect people’s lives beyond jobs and growth, in much the same way as other international trade and investment negotiations. Any new EU-UK arrangement – as well as future UK and EU trade agreements – will have important consequences.

Elisabetta presented the NHS perspective on these important issues such as the ability of healthcare service providers to operate in the UK and the EU, intellectual property rights protections for new drugs and treatments, and the freedom of movement and mutual recognition of qualifications for medical staff.

More specifically, on the issue of the future partnership with the EU, she mentioned that a comprehensive and far-reaching free trade agreement between the UK and the EU will require a sufficient level of regulatory convergence between the two blocks to remove as many trade barriers as possible. While this will not be a problem at the outset, as the UK is fully compliant with EU law, a new mechanism will have to be designed to ensure that convergence is maintained over time when EU law is no longer binding in the UK.

The event also looked at the UK’s future relationship with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). While the UK is currently a member of the WTO through its membership of the EU, post-Brexit it will simply be a member in its own right. This will imply that the UK will have to negotiate and agree a range of trade commitments and schedules with the other WTO members.

Find out more about the event on the EPHA website.

Read more about the NHS European Office, and the NHS Confederation’s work to ensure the NHS perspective is heard and understood in Brexit negotiations on our Brexit web pages.

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