The impact of another complex Brexit has become clear. More than four years after voters in Great Britain decided they wanted to leave the European Union, the turn of the new year marked the beginning of a new business relationship between Britain and the European Union. While the 11th hour trade deal prevented economic exchanges from grinding to a complete halt, British architects won’t find it easy to start their trade on the continent any time soon.
Starting January 1, 2021, architect licenses in the UK will no longer be recognized as valid by 29 of the 30 countries that make up the European Economic Area (as well as Switzerland). For now, those wishing to work with any EEA country except Ireland will need to demonstrate their competence in practicing architecture in every country.
This problem stems from the fact that the two Brexit sides were unable to come to an agreement that would mutually recognize professional qualifications across the UK-EU border. Architects are far from being selected because of licensing headaches: Lawyers are now the only credentials UK who can continue business as usual in the EEA for now.
Despite the EEA’s reluctance to recognize licenses issued by the British Architects Registry came into effect after the calendar was submitted to 2021, this issue has been the concern of Brexit negotiators since at least February last year. At that time, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed a desire to make reciprocal credential recognition as a component of the UK / EU trade agreement, even though the current agreement does not include such a provision.
Unsurprisingly, the British Royal Institute of Architects less pleased with the prospect that its members might face new obstacles to working on the continent. “Since the referendum, RIBA has strongly called for mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and it is therefore disappointing to see this has not been agreed,” said the RIBA chief executive in a statement cited by Architect’s Journal. “Going forward, ARB has the opportunity to negotiate a new path of recognition with the EU, and we will work closely with our colleagues and ARB members to help shape such an agreement.”
Even once again information on any deal the ARB could elaborate on should be available by January 22nd, working as a British architect in an EEA country other than Ireland will involve some logistical challenges. UK citizens are only permitted to stay in EU member states on a 90 day “short stay” visa within a specified 180 day period, after which it is necessary to apply and pay for a long term immigration visa.