The Publishers Association has called on the government to keep European Union (EU) trade barriers to an “absolute minimum” and to encourage investment in the UK via stronger copyright rules during its Brexit negotiations.
Following a recent survey into publishers' worries after the UK voted to leave the EU on 23rd June, the PA has set out the industry’s key priorities for negotiations on the UK’s new relationship with the European Union in a manifesto published today (6th September).
Europe is the UK's biggest market for physical book exports, with print sales to the continent accounting for over 35% of total export revenues. With this in mind, a quarter of publishers surveyed said that access to the single market was the most important thing the UK should seek in its negotiations to leave the EU. As such, to help publishing "continue to thrive", the PA is calling on the government to keep barriers on trade with the EU to an "absolute minimum".
Further, the trade body said it will lobby the government to create stronger copyright rules to encourage investment in the UK and to protect creators. According to the PA, it is “essential” that the government ensures a “stable and clear” copyright framework to give publishers the confidence to invest in authors and their work. The importance of this was highlighted by the results of the survey, which saw 38% of respondents say that a strong government commitment to the existing copyright framework was their main priority post-Brexit.
The PA will also urge the government to ensure publishers and businesses have access to the people and skills they need, whilst taking into account the public’s concerns about immigration. The PA's survey found that EU workers are highly valuable to publishers, with almost a third saying that retaining freedom of movement is their top priority post-Brexit.
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, emphasised the "great success" of the UK publishing industry both nationally and internationally, and said that it is "essential that our concerns are at the forefront of these Brexit negotiations to make sure our voice is heard and success is not taken for granted".
“This manifesto sets out the industry’s key priorities for the future, which include retaining access to the single market and ensuring that publishers continue to have access to the people and skills they need", he said. "There should also be no doubt that UK publishing will embrace the opportunities presented by leaving the EU, such as securing a stronger copyright framework. We will be meeting with government departments, political parties, senior civil servants and key influencers in the coming months to discuss these priorities.”
New prime minister Theresa May has faced renewed pressure about what Brexit will entail after the House of Commons recess came to an end yesterday (5th September), but has said that formal EU talks will not begin until 2017. She has also promised only "some control" over EU migration post-Brexit.