Institutions / Legislation - UK/Europe
Industry Report: European Policy
Brexit trade deal provokes a new agenda for the UK and European film industries
by David Katz
The new Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU was finally signed late last month, and sets out the impending relationship between the territories
It took roughly half a decade to administer, but a de jure Brexit has finally taken place. The UK and the EU have signed a vital Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on the details of their relationship going forward. This was agreed on 24 December last year, going into effect as the transition period ended on 31 December.
With the negotiations going down to the wire, both sides will be pleased that they struck a trade deal allowing an economically beneficial relationship to continue. But for the screen sectors of both parties, there are new legal rulings to adhere to that will pose challenges. The British Film Institute has published an exhaustive Q&A (click here) that serves as a handy guide to the new statutes.
To summarise, the key points concern personnel issues, potential co-productions, and the UK accessing European funding.
Both the UK and the EU have agreed to provide visa-free short-term travel: six months for the EU to the UK, and 90 days for the Schengen area. For stays of longer than 90 days in the Schengen area, UK citizens will require a residence permit or relevant visa.
Those moving from the EU to the UK to work for longer than 90 days (such as to join a film or high-end TV production) must now apply for the tier 5 (creative and sporting) visa system. This requires a job offer from a recognised sponsor.
For long-term immigration to the UK, a points-based system now applies to both EEA and non-EEA nationals. Those moving to the UK for permanent employment, such as many post-production roles, must have a job offer in a highly skilled profession and be able to speak English. They must then reach a points threshold through a combination of salary (which must be above £20,480), qualification level and whether they are working in a role with previous skills shortages.
The UK and Irish governments are importantly maintaining the Common Travel Area (CTA) from 1 January 2021. CTA arrangements entail full protection for all journeys for individuals between the UK and Ireland.
As confirmed by the withdrawal agreement signed on 24 January 2020, EU nationals already in the UK can apply for settled status after five years, and pre-settled status if they’ve lived there for less than five.
All co-production agreements, including the bi-lateral co-production treaties and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production signed by the UK, remain in place after the UK’s exit.
Under the withdrawal agreement, the UK participated in the Creative Europe programme until its last round ended on 31 December 2020, putting a stop to nearly 30 years of support for the UK industry. UK projects that have already secured funding will continue to receive this as normal, even if their funded activity is set to take place in 2021 and beyond. The Creative Europe Media Desk UK remains open until 31 March 2021.
The UK government confirmed that it will fund the delivery of a £7 million Global Screen Fund that will partly replace Creative Europe, not unlike how the Turing scheme is replacing the Erasmus programme, and will continue supporting UK independent content in the international marketplace.
Further details are to be confirmed on all of these points. The BFI is working closely with the government to ensure the greatest possible benefit to the domestic industry.
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