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01 / 01 / 2021

Brexit: How will it work?

written by
Tessa Reynolds

Models and Actors travelling and working between the EU Member States after Brexit…

 

INTRODUCTION
On Christmas Eve 2020, the UK and Europe finally announced a post-Brexit trade deal. Having been trying to find out, for many months, what the rules to work would be from January 2021 for models and actors, this came as a huge relief.  Better late than never, we thought.  However, if we had thought this would result in a simple clear path to the rules and regulations that would be required for each country, we were very badly mistaken!

 

WHAT ARE THE BEST AND WORST PARTS OF THE DEAL FOR BUSINESS?
The good news for many industries is the agreement sees zero tariffs and quota-free traded goods.  The bad news for us is that this comes with the exception of the services industry, which is estimated to comprise 80% of the UK economy and includes model and talent agencies.  This means UK models, actors, photographers, producers and other freelance creatives may face barriers to work in some EU countries, with the same being true for EU creatives wanting to work in the UK. 

 

HOW WILL THIS WORK FOR JOBS THAT CAN’T BE CONFIRMED IN ADVANCE?
With our clients frequently only confirming models and actors for jobs within days or even hours of having to leave the UK, last minute shoots putting creative teams together from different countries may be a thing of the past.  The new layers of immigration and visa requirements which will enable creatives to work in each other’s countries, are likely to take significant time to process.  In short, we will no longer be able to travel between EU countries to work with ease as we have been.

 

SO IF I AM A EU CITIZEN, HOW CAN I CONTINUE TO WORK IN THE UK?
The rights and status of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020 will remain the same until 30 June 2021. EU citizens that have lived in the UK for five years or more by 31 December 2020 are able to apply for ‘settled status’, allowing them to stay here permanently. Anyone that has not been in the UK for the requisite five years may apply for pre-settled status, allowing them to remain in the UK until they have reached the five years required to apply for settled status. The deadline for applications for either settled or pre-settled status is 30 June 2021.

Simply put, if you have been living in the UK and apply for settled or pre-settled status, you can continue to work until the end of June 2021.  Further details on how to apply for the EU settlement scheme is available here.

If you are a citizen of another EU Member State, under the UK’s new points-based immigration system, EU creatives coming to the UK to work will now require a Temporary Worker Creative & Sporting Visa (T5)” or a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa for a one-off visit/job.  The UK allows those coming to the UK to shoot on location for an overseas production to enter without a visa for limited periods of time.

 

AND IF I AM A UK CITIZEN AND WANT TO WORK FOR CLIENTS IN EU MEMBER STATES?
UK models & actors wanting to work in the EU will need to meet the entry requirements of individual EU countries. The UK Government has published a country-by-country guide here but these entry requirements are difficult to find, if published at all, which makes it almost impossible to know exactly what is needed, how and where to apply, or the length of time it takes to be approved. 

On short-term mobility, The EU will apply its existing rules on visa-free short-term visits to UK nationals travelling to and within the Schengen area. UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling there for short stays of up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period when travelling for purposes such as tourism, to visit friends or family, attend cultural or sports events or for conducting a limited variety of business trips. Each member state also has its own list of activities it allows to take place visa-free. The problem is, today is the day these new rules come into play and we don’t know what they are. Which countries will allow “business trips”?  What will these permitted trips will include? The number of activities allowed during this period may be expanded by any agreement made by the UK and the EU on their future relationship.

 

SO ARE THERE ANY COUNTRIES WHICH WILL LET UK CITIZENS WORK VISA-FREE?
After spending hours trawling through all the separate Member States’ websites, it seems only three countries have published clear information at the time of writing this article (1st Jan 2021), confirming that a visa will not be required for the purposes of providing one-off acting or modelling services - France, Switzerland and Ireland:

FRANCE:UK citizens going to France to work for up to 90 days will not require a visa. They will need to obtain a temporary work permit unless travelling for a sporting, cultural or scientific event, a seminar or trade show, the production and broadcast of cinematographic and audiovisual works, modelling, IT/ asset management/ insurance/ finance/ design/ engineering audit or expertise missions. Attention, a long stay visa is required if staying more than 90 days in France.”

SWITZERLAND: The UK and Switzerland have today (Monday 14 December) signed a deal on services, providing continuity for UK businesses, professionals and other service providers to continue working  freely in Switzerland for up to 90 days a year.”

IRELAND: Rights to work, study and access social security and public services are preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals in the other’s state.”

We can only assume that other countries will update their information to give clear guidance in the days ahead. Lots of these sites are still saying UK passport holders do not need a visa for business travel but it is not clear whether this is old information which has not been updated since the UK left the EU.



IS ANYTHING BEING DONE TO HELP THIS SITUATION?
Prominent performers including the actor and comedian Dawn French and the musicians KT Tunstall, Ronan Keating and Gary Kemp are among more than 212,000 people who have signed a petition calling on the government to negotiate a free culture work permit for UK performers in the EU.

The actors’ union, Equity, which is backing the call, said creative workers had been forgotten in the trade deal’s visa-free travel arrangements. Equity General Secretary Paul Fleming has said Equity's officials and I will spend Christmas poring over the details of the proposed Brexit deal. We have said from the very start that its implications for our industry cannot be overstated.

Simply put, our position has always been that the government should do all it can to ensure that Brexit does not harm our members, our industries or working people. It is not immediately clear that this deal does provide those safeguards. We will be setting tests at our January Council meeting which this deal has to meet - especially on workers' rights, intellectual property, the environment, creative industry funding, state aid, the rights of EU citizens, artist visas, and thriving creative industries across an island of Ireland at peace.

It is wrong to say this was a choice between this deal and no deal. There is a choice to keep talking, to extend the deadline beyond the pandemic and show a deal which stands up to scrutiny. It is brinkmanship alone which will deliver this option.

It is wrong to say that this is Brexit done - the work for our union and our movement goes on. At this moment we re-amplify our demands for proper physical paperwork to be given to EU citizens resident in the UK, for an artists visa scheme to allow travel, and a commitment to roll back neoliberal attitudes to state aid for our industry and beyond.

Like every battle for our members, it is folly to think that the power lies in the hands of governments or trade blocs. The cause of labour is the hope of the world - wherever you are. The opposition of the trade union movement ended the prospect of no deal; the support of our movement will build the best deal in the months and years to come.”

 

CONCLUSION
We are only on day one, the deal was done very late and during a holiday period.  We have to hope that over the next few days/weeks/months the situation will become much clearer and agreements will be made with the remaining member states for visa-free travel for freelance creatives travelling for short-term contracts.

Whatever happens, we will make it work!!!

Happy New Year!

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written by Tessa Reynolds

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