Brexit Briefing

The RIBA’s reaction and summary of the key implications and actions following the Brexit vote.
BREXIT

riba brexit briefing


The outcome of the referendum on EU membership is likely to have a number of implications for RIBA members. This briefing sets out what we know now about the definite or potential impact on our members, where there is uncertainty and where we will be providing further guidance as information becomes available.

As the UK’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May will be responsible for negotiating the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Until the UK completes the process of leaving the EU, the UK remains bound by all current EU law.The Prime Minister has stated that Article 50 will be triggered by March 2017 at the latest. The government has stated that it will seek to overturn a ruling by High Court which ruled that Parliament must have a say over whether Article 50 is triggered.

UK architecture talent is incredibly resilient and the RIBA will continue to ensure that our profession has a strong voice and a bright future in the coming weeks, months and years.

RIBA Chief Executive Alan Vallance and RIBA President Jane Duncan have meeting with government to discuss ways forward for the UK’s architecture sector following the UK’s vote. The RIBA has also been meeting with civil servants and submitting evidence to Parliament.

RIBA Brexit Survey - November/December 2016

The RIBA is inviting all members to participate in a survey to help shape its ongoing response to the result of the EU referendum. The survey gauges individual member perspectives on any challenges and opportunities they face as a result of the EU referendum outcome. It also scopes the additional steps the RIBA can take to best continue to support members in their work.

 The RIBA continues to gathers data on the impact of the EU referendum outcome on practices and business via Future Trends and Benchmarking surveys, as well as in collaboration with the NBS. This survey will complement the data, and help to ensure the views and needs of the whole membership can be reflected.

Members can fill in the survey by following this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7LYDTCB

The survey closes on Friday 16th December 2016.

 For more information on how Brexit is affecting the industry, please see the following content:

SEPTEMBER 2016 - JOINT STATEMENT ON THE UK’S REFERENDUM ON MEMBERSHIP OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

RIBA, CIOB, RTPI and RICS make a joint statement on six priorities to ensure the UK’s leadership in the built environment.

AS WORKLOAD INDEX RECOVERS FROM BREXIT SHOCK, OUTLOOK REMAINS VOLATILE

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index for August bounced back from post-Brexit shock.

RIBA Brexit Policy Briefing
We outline the five challenges facing architects and the policy solutions to address them.

Commercial development sentiment is hit across the board

Results of a post-Brexit Survey of commercial development activity shows a sharp and accelerated contraction.

 

Practices look beyond Europe for work

In the face of a UK downturn there is a world of work out there.

 

Brexit: Latest analysis

RIBA Journal is reporting on the Brexit coverage and what it means for architects with updates as events unfold.

We will be updating these pages regularly as we learn more. If you have any questions you would like to address please contact us at president.brexit@riba.org

What we know 

Free movement of labour

There has been no change to the rights and status of EU national in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum, says newly published government guidance.

EU nationals that have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 5 years automatically have a permanent right to reside, and those that have been in the country for at least 6 years are eligible to apply for British citizenship. EU nationals that have been in the country for less than five years will continue to have a right to reside in the UK in accordance with EU law, without having to register for further documentation.

Doing business in the EU

UK architects will continue to enjoy tariff-free access to the EU market under the European Union Customs Union (EUCU) until negotiations are complete. Tariff and import restrictions on goods will remain unchanged while negotiations are underway.

Public Procurement

The UK’s public procurement system is based on the European Procurement Directives, which are in turn based on the World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement. Issues like the procurement threshold and the requirement to open all contracts above this value to competition will be maintained during negotiation.

For architects bidding for public contracts in the EU, no immediate changes are likely. EU law expressly forbids any weight in a procurement decision being given to the country of origin of a bid for a public contract. As such, access to public contracts for UK bids is not dependent on the UK’s membership of the EU.

Product and environmental standards

70% of environmental legislation and policy in the UK is based on EU directives.

Brexit will mean that the UK loses the ability to input directly into setting of standards within the EU. Currently EEA members adopt European standards on all single market issues.

All EU directives are translated into UK national law and regulations. When the process of the UK leaving the EU is complete, there will be greater flexibility for changes to be made, however all legislation will remain in-force unless specifically repealed by Parliament.

The UK’s standards body the BSI has stated that membership to the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission will not be affected by withdrawal from the EU. While the UK remains a member of the EU, the BSI will retain membership of European standardisation organisations CEN and CENELEC. The BSI has stated that it will be working with government to assess its relationship with European organisations.

It may become more difficult to challenge decisions on affecting the environment. The European Commission has taken the UK to the EU Court of Justice several times over the high cost of challenges of decisions on the environment. The Commission is concerned that the potentially high cost of losing legal actions in the UK is preventing NGOs and individuals in the UK from bringing cases in the first place. Without EC pressure, a UK government may lack sufficient incentive to address the prohibitively expensive possibility of challenging decisions affecting the environment.

Standards in UK or devolved law will remain in force. However Parliament will have greater scope to re-evaluate regulations once the UK has left the EU.

Universities

Free movement of students within the EU will be maintained during the negotiation period. We also expect research funding and academic cooperation agreements to continue during this time.

EU Funding and Investment

The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides significant investment in infrastructure across the UK, including £16billion in the past three years. It recently agreed to provide £1 billion for new social housing investment.

The UK is currently the joint-largest shareholder in the EIB but it will have to give up its stake once the two-year period post-Article 50 invocation is up. Since future EIB lending decisions will no longer involve the UK, from that point EIB lending for British-based projects is likely to decrease.

In the meantime, the EIB has said that it will honour its existing deals in the wake of last week’s Brexit vote. 

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor the Exchequer, has guaranteed that the UK will continue to fund projects that were are otherwise in receipt of EU structural and investment funding, and signed off before this year’s Autumn Statement. 

What we don't yet know 

Timings

Article 50 provides a two-year negotiating period for a state to leave the EU. The decision about when to invoke Article 50 will be a crucial one. Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that this will take place by March 2017. The High Court has ruled that Parliament must decide on Article 50 – the Government
is now seeking to overturn the court’s decision.

Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that the Scottish Government intend to pursue a second referendum on Scottish Independence. However, indications from Brussels suggest any potential accession by an independent Scotland will not be a straightforward process.

Free movement of Labour

Non-EU countries in Europe have maintained the free movement of labour in return for access to the EU single market. This is seen as one of the biggest areas for dispute during negotiations.

The European Professional Qualifications Directives (EPQD) provides for the mutual recognition of professions across the trade area. Brexit will not necessarily have an impact on this issue, and the UK will have the option to maintain compliance with the directive.

Doing business in the EU

The UK's status within the European Union Customs Union is likely to be another major debating point. While the non-EU members of the EEA (European Economic Area) are not part of the customs union, Turkey is currently a member. However, EEA members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) maintain tariff-free access for goods originating in their countries despite not being part of the EU.

Members of the EEA adopt most EU standards as a condition of access so it is likely that the UK will be required to take a similar approach if we want to maintain access to the EEA.

The European Commission’s position on the Canada-EU trade deal will have implications for the UK’s ability to create a trade deal with the rest of the EU. The Commission’s decision on the Canada deal means that every national legislature within the EU will have to the chance to ratify the deal – this could provide significant opportunities for trade to be disrupted.

Universities

Leaving the EU is very likely to have an impact on the number of EU nationals studying and working in the EU academic sector.

EU membership is not a prerequisite for participation in major European research initiatives. The European Council regulations provide for full participation for both EU and non-EU members in ERIC (the European Research Infrastructure Consortium).

Non-EU members, such as Israel and Switzerland also participate in major European research initiatives, including the Horizon 2020 programme. The UK is one of the largest contributors to the EU research budget - contributing €5.4 billion over the period 2007 – 2013. The best estimate that exists is that during the same period, the UK received €8.8 billion in direct EU funding for research, development and innovation activities. There are clear financial implications for UK universities if the UK chooses not to continue.

Impact on the Construction Industry

According to the Bank of England, 'There is growing evidence that uncertainty about the referendum has delayed major economic decisions, such as business investment, construction and housing market activity.'

Output of the UK construction sector has fallen. RIBA’s September 2016 Future Trends
survey shows that architects workload confidence shows signs of stability, but
remains lower than pre-referendum levels. The Bank of England has set out a plan for maintaining liquidity in the financial system. The longer term impacts will depend on what agreement is reached between the UK and the EU and domestic regulatory decision.

The status of the UK's trade relationship with Europe could have a significant impact on the cost of construction projects in the UK. If the UK stays in the EEA, tariff free trade in goods and services from the EU will be maintained.

If the UK leaves the EUCU, the UK will be free to decide what level of tariffs it imposes on goods entering the UK. Imports from outside the EU are currently subject to the EU Common External Tariff. The UK government would have the freedom to change rates as it sees fit – with consequential changes in the prices of building materials possible.

Representatives from the construction industry have been stressing that it is too early to say what the long-term impact of Brexit will be. This will depend, in part, on whether construction costs are significantly increased through a weak pound and/ or tariff barriers with the EU, whether there is a shortage of skilled labour through migration controls, and the wider impact of Brexit on the economy.  

What will the RIBA be doing?

Championing our members

The process of negotiating the UK's exit from the EU will trigger a broad discussion on a number of issues relating to the day-to-day work of architects. Our first objective is to listen to our members and to identify their priorities for the negotiating process. The RIBA Council has discussed first steps and we will be working tirelessly to get the best deal possible for architects. The RIBA has written to government ministers.

Collaboration with other organisations

Over the coming days and weeks, the RIBA will be working closely with other organisations in the sector and the wider business community to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place to do business. We will be talking to our colleagues in RIAS, RSUA and RSAW the Architects Council of Europe, other professional institutes and key industry stakeholders and working together to lead the debate in the best interests of all our members.

Helping our members adapt to the new environment

Political and financial upheaval can create opportunities as well as challenges. The new circumstances we find ourselves in will require practices to be light on their feet and work with their clients to find and act on those opportunities. Architects are at their best when they can shape and respond to the changing world around us - the RIBA is committed to providing our members with the skills and support they will need.

RIBA Brexit Membership FAQs

The RIBA is a global professional membership body with members from over 115 countries around the world. The EU referendum does not affect our membership criteria or our position as an inclusive membership body and we are delighted to have such a diverse membership from around the world.

This briefing outlines responses to questions we have been asked by current and prospective members. If you have any questions about RIBA membership that are not covered here or want to discuss your current or future membership of the RIBA please email Membership Development or call +44(0)20 7307 3686.

I am a non-British EU citizen, can I still join?

Yes and we would be delighted to welcome you as a member. We are an inclusive global professional membership body and we welcome architects who have qualified from around the world, students of architecture and built-environment co-professionals. If you would like to talk to someone about joining the RIBA, please contact Membership Development or call +44(0)20 7307 3686

As a non-British EU citizen, what are the implications of Brexit on my RIBA membership now and in the future?

The EU referendum does not affect our membership criteria, or the status of an individuals' membership. We celebrate and champion our diverse membership from around the world.

What will happen to my membership if I decide to move back to Europe?

We are committed to supporting our members wherever they are in the world and you will continue to be able to enjoy the benefits of membership. 

Now that the UK is leaving the EU, will the RIBA change the eligibility criteria for architects who qualified in mainland Europe? 

No. Through our recent changes to our Chartered membership criteria, we will continue to embrace and support architects from the EU and around the world, demonstrating our commitment to being a truly inclusive and progressive organisation and profession.

Maybe I should wait until there is more information about my right to remain in the UK before applying for RIBA membership?

In the immediate term, no changes will occur as a direct result of the vote to leave the EU. UK citizens will maintain the ability to work in the EU and UK employers will be free to employ nationals of any EU member state.

In addition, non-EU countries in Europe have maintained the free movement of labour in return for access to the EU single market. This is seen as one of the biggest areas for dispute during negotiations.

The European Professional Qualifications Directives (EPQD) provides for the mutual recognition of professions across the trade area. Brexit will not necessarily have an impact on this issue, and the UK will have the option to maintain compliance with the directive.

RIBA is an inclusive global membership body. We work to ensure that all our members in the UK and across the world are valued and understood, better prepared to overcome challenges and supported to achieve the highest professional and ethical standards.

We are the voice and advocate for our members from over 115 countries around the world. We work with government to champion the value that an architect brings and to achieve change to help our members engage with the challenges and opportunities of a changing world.

If you would to discuss your application for membership, please contact Membership Development or call +44(0)20 7307 3686.

What will the RIBA be doing to support architects as a result of the outcome of the referendum?

The RIBA will be championing its members, collaborating with other organisations and helping its members adapt to the new environment.

We are championing our members
The process of negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU will trigger a broad discussion on a number of issues relating to the day-to-day work of architects. Our first objective is to listen to our members and to identify their priorities for the negotiating process. We will be working tirelessly to get the best deal possible for architects.

Collaboration with other organisations
Over the coming days and weeks, the RIBA will be working closely with other organisations in the sector and the wider business community to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place to do business. We will be talking to our colleagues in RIAS, RSUA and RSAW the Architects Council of Europe, other professional institutes and key industry stakeholders and working together to lead the debate in the best interests of all our members.

Helping our members adapt to the new environment
Political and financial upheaval can create opportunities as well as challenges. The new circumstances we find ourselves in will require practices to be light on their feet and work with their clients to find and act on those opportunities. Architects are at their best when they can shape and respond to the changing world around us - the RIBA is committed to providing our members with the skills and support they will need.

 

RIBA President Jane Duncan on the EU Referendum Result

'The RIBA is a global organisation that supports its members, validates schools of architecture and champions the importance of a quality built environment around the world. UK architecture talent is incredibly resilient and we will continue to ensure that our profession has a bright future, whatever the operating environment.

'Clearly there is uncertainty about the timescales and impact on a range of issues important to our industry including free movement in the EU for architects as well as students, trading and material sourcing, inward investment relationships, EU procurement rules and the effect on the construction sector if restrictions are placed on EU migration.

'In common with other UK businesses and organisations, the RIBA is assessing the short and longer term effect of the withdrawal on our members and the Institute and we will provide further guidance in due course.

'Most importantly, we will work with colleagues in industry and government to ensure that architects have a strong voice in the coming weeks, months and years.'

 

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