This Brexit Impact Is Already Stymieing Architects
Another complicated Brexit impact has made itself clear. More than four years after voters in the United Kingdom decided they’d like to leave the European Union, the turn of the new year finally marked the start of a new business relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. While an 11th-hour trade deal prevented economic exchange from grinding to a complete halt, British architects won’t find it easy to ply their trade on the continent any time soon.
As of January 1, 2021, the licenses of architects in the U.K. are no longer recognized as valid by 29 out of the 30 countries that make up the European Economic Area (as well as Switzerland). For the time being, those hoping to work with any EEA country except Ireland will need to demonstrate their competency for practicing architecture on a country-by-country basis.
The issue stems from the fact that the two Brexit sides were unable to come to an agreement that would mutually recognize professional qualifications across the U.K.–E.U. border. Architects are far from singled out for licensing headaches: Lawyers are now the only credentialed Brits who can continue business as usual in the EEA for the time being.
Though the EEA’s unwillingness to recognize licenses issued by the U.K.’s Architects Registration Board took effect once the calendar turned over to 2021, the issue’s been on the radar of Brexit negotiators since at least February of last year. Back then, British prime minister Boris Johnson expressed a desire to make mutual credential recognition a component of a U.K./E.U. trade deal, though the now active agreement does not include any such provisions.
Unsurprisingly, the Royal Institute of British Architects is less than thrilled about the prospect that its members may face new obstacles in working on the continent. “Since the referendum, the RIBA has strongly called for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and it’s therefore disappointing to see this has not been agreed,” RIBA’s chief executive said in a statement cited by Architect’s Journal. “Going forward, the ARB has an opportunity to negotiate a new recognition route with the EU, and we will be working closely with ARB colleagues and members to help shape such an agreement.”
Even once more information about whatever agreement ARB can hash out should be available by January 22, working as a British architect in an EEA country besides Ireland will involve some logistical challenges. U.K. nationals are only permitted to stay in EU member countries on a “short stay” visa for 90 days in a given 180-day period, after which point applying and paying for a longer-term immigration visa would be required.