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Tuesday's Business and Politics round-up

17 Oct 2017

Person reading a daily news round up on their tablet Good morning all!

Was anyone else terribly confused by the weird orange sky yesterday? If you were to go by what was said on twitter - it was either the end of the world or something caused by, you guessed it, Brexit!

For those of you that don't know what I am talking about, an unusual reddish sky engulfed many parts of UK. It was initially seen in the west of England and Wales before spreading to other areas. It is reportedly due to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia dragging in tropical air and dust from the Sahara.

In case you missed it, here are some astonishing photos of the event.

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Blind Data 

With only months to go until the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force next May, a survey of business leaders today reveals that there are still a worrying number of companies across the country that are not aware of the costs, complexities and responsibilities associated with the new rules.

The survey of almost 900 members of the Institute of Directors, carried out between July and August, shows that nearly a third of company directors have not heard of GDPR, while 4 in 10 don’t know if their company will be affected by the new regulations.

There appears to be a stark contrast between insufficient levels of general awareness on the one hand, and reasonable preparedness of companies who do know about the new rules on the other. Two-thirds of businesses who are aware of GDPR were either very or somewhat confident they fully understand how it will affect the running of their business.

The new rules will redefine the way companies handle data and will include tougher punishments for those who fail to comply. Under current regulations, there is a maximum charge of £500,000 or 1% of annual turnover, but this is set to be replaced with a fine of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover. When asked whether they would be fully compliant with the regulations by the May 2018 deadline, 86% of businesses said they were either very or somewhat confident of being so.

Commenting on the results, the IoD’s Head of External Affairs, Jamie Kerr, said “It was clear from the outset that this would be a mammoth task for small and large businesses alike, but the scale of the challenge has not necessarily translated into preparedness for the new regulation, despite the huge costs of non-compliance.”

He added that it was crucial that everyone understands how big this regulatory change will be for businesses leaders, stressing that “Company directors are being pulled in so many different directions it is unsurprising that many do not fully understand the details of GDPR”.

Kerr urged the Government and the regulator to step up its engagement with businesses to ensure that they are spreading the message far and wide.

Brexit: Full Speed Ahead

A joint statement from the UK Prime Minister and the President of the EU Commission last night, said Brexit negotiations should “accelerate over the months to come”. This came after Theresa May met Jean-Claude for dinner in Brussels, which they both called “constructive and friendly”. The pair were joined by their negotiating leads Mr Barnier and David Davis.

There has been speculation that the dinner was arranged to break the “deadlock” - as described by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Downing Street, however, insist the dinner had “been in the diary for weeks”.

Mrs May and Mr Juncker said they had had a "broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges", including preserving the Iran nuclear deal and strengthening security in Europe to battle terrorism.

The statement also said "The prime minister and the president of the European Commission reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come".

For our viewing pleasure, May and Juncker even threw in a goodbye hug.

All eyes will be on the EU summit later this week, attended by leaders of the 27 EU countries, where they are expected to discuss the three initial topics for negotiation: the amount the UK owes the EU when it leaves, the future rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU, and what happens on the Northern Ireland border. As well as making progress on these issues, Mrs May will be hoping the leaders will give Mr Barnier a mandate to start talks on future trade.

Bombardier partners with Airbus

The European aircraft giant Airbus is to take a majority stake in Bombardier’s C Series programme. The two aircraft manufacturers announced the partnership last night, weeks after Bombardier was hit by a 300% import levy by the United States following a complaint from rival Boeing that the company had dumped its C Series jets at “absurdly low” prices. The move put thousands of jobs at stake in Belfast.

The Canadian-owned company is due to begin delivering an order of up to 125 new jets to Atlanta-based Delta next year. Boeing claims that aid from the UK and Canadian governments amounts to illegal subsidy.

Commenting on the deal with Airbus, Bombardier's Northern Ireland's director Michael Ryan said the deal was "great news" for the Belfast operation. However, it is not yet known how the surprise move will affect Bombardier’s 4,000 employees in Belfast.

Airbus’s chief executive, Tom Enders, said in a statement: “This is a win-win for everybody. The C Series, with its state-of-the-art design and great economics, is a great fit with our existing single-aisle aircraft family and rapidly extends our product offering into a fast growing market sector.

“I have no doubt that our partnership with Bombardier will boost sales and the value of this programme tremendously. Not only will this partnership secure the C Series and its industrial operations in Canada, the UK and China, but we also bring new jobs to the US.”

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