The Office for the Internal Market’s (OIM) statutory reports take a wide-ranging look at the operation of the UK internal market and recent developments across the nations as well as the regime underpinning the internal market.
Trading between the UK nations is a crucial part of our economy. The OIM’s reports found that, overall, the majority of businesses that trade within the UK do not face challenges when selling to other UK nations. Post-Brexit, there have been few new regulatory differences between the UK nations, so far. The reports identify a number of regulatory developments which may lead to differences in the future. The OIM can assist policymakers when considering the potential impacts of future regulatory change on the UK internal market.
The OIM’s work has involved a diverse and comprehensive range of qualitative and quantitative research, including roundtables, interviews and surveys, to compile the evidence analysed and included in these 2 reports.
Published alongside these reports, the OIM’s new Data Strategy Roadmap sets out projects being undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the devolved governments, UK government departments and academics from around the UK, as well as the OIM, that will improve collective understanding of how the UK internal market is operating.
Murdoch MacLennan, chair of the OIM panel, said:
“The reports are important milestones, further establishing the OIM as a key source of expert information on the operation of the UK internal market.
“Our work so far has highlighted a need for better cross-UK trade data, which is why we have published our data strategy roadmap, which will help co-ordinate and, over time, improve the data currently available on the UK internal market.
“Throughout the year we’ve had excellent engagement with businesses and the 4 governments across the UK, with data showing that the majority of businesses that trade within the UK do not face challenges when trading on an intra-UK basis but that some businesses have concerns about the potential for future differences emerging over time.
“We look forward to continuing our work and providing expert analysis in response to any potential changes in intra-UK trade.”
The OIM, part of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), independently advises the UK government and the devolved governments on how specific laws, rules and regulations impact the UK internal market and reports on how well it is working. The OIM was launched in September 2021 to provide, among other things, non-binding technical and economic advice to all 4 governments in the UK of the effect on the UK internal market of regulatory provisions that they introduce or plan to bring forward. The OIM operates independently of all 4 governments.
In February 2023, the OIM published its first government-commissioned report, following a request from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to examine how the proposed ban on horticultural peat sales in England may impact the effective operation of the internal market. The report found that the proposal would not have a major impact on intra-UK trade.
- Since leaving the EU, significant powers have returned to the UK government and devolved administrations, increasing the possibility of regulatory differences between the nations. Under the UK Internal Market Act 2020, the OIM’s work assists governments in understanding how effectively companies are able to sell their products and services across the 4 nations of the UK and the impact of regulatory provisions on this for the governments’ consideration alongside their own wider policy issues.
- OIM recently published its first report on a request. The request came from the UK Government (the then-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), on its proposal to end the sale of peat in horticultural products.
- Consumers and businesses can report issues with the UK internal market by completing OIM’s webform here.
- The OIM’s annual and periodic reports include evidence and analysis on the UK internal market from the 4 nations of the UK. The Northern Ireland Protocol and legislative provisions which are necessary to give effect to the Protocol are outside the scope of the OIM’s functions under the Act.