The UK government has published a series of technical notices on its preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit and to provide businesses and citizens guidance on what they should do in the event of the UK and EU failing to reach a Brexit deal. The UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 – while the UK government and the European Union are negotiating a withdrawal agreement, if a deal cannot be reached there will be significant implications for RIBA members from a no-deal scenario.
The technical notice on Providing services including those of a qualified professional if there's no Brexit deal outlines how recognition of qualifications for a range of professions including architecture would be regulated in the event of a no deal Brexit. It advises that in this scenario, the EU Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC, ‘The MRPQ Directive’) will no longer apply in the UK and there will be no reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications or experience between the remaining European Economic Area (EEA) states and the UK.
The subsequent technical notice The system for recognising EU qualified architects in the UK if there is no Brexit deal confirms details of the new UK system of recognition for architects with an approved qualification from an European Economic Area (EEA) state, which would apply in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Further to this technical notice, the Architects Registration Board has produced its own guidance for architects on the implications of the new UK system for recognition of architects with EEA qualifications.
The European Commission has published a notice to stakeholders on recognition of professional qualifications which confirms that in the event of a no deal Brexit, UK nationals would be regarded as ‘third country’ nationals and the MRPQ Directive would no longer apply to them.
How a no deal scenario will affect those who wish to register as an architect in Europe or the UK could depend on their nationality, where they achieved their qualifications and experience, whether they have access to the profession in the relevant state and in which country they wish to work.
RIBA is advising EU-qualified architects currently in the UK, who want to work in the UK under the title “architect”, to apply for registration with the Architects Registration Board (ARB), the UK’s statutory regulator for architects, before 29 March 2019 if they have not already done so.
We are also advising UK-qualified members who wish to be able to practise in the remaining EEA states after 29 March 2019 to contact the host state regulator of the country they wish to practise in now in order to seek clarity on the respective states’ registration policies now and post-Brexit. A list of relevant regulators is available on the ARB’s website here.
What are the current arrangements for MRPQ?
Under the MRPQ Directive, EEA nationals who are eligible for registration as an architect in their home state are able to have their professional qualifications and experience recognised in another EEA state without taking additional exams or professional training.
This means that EEA nationals who hold appropriate qualifications listed in the MRPQ Directive and are eligible to access to the profession both within one other EEA state are eligible to register with ARB in order to use the title “architect” in the UK without needing to meet any additional requirements.
Non-EEA nationals are not covered by the MRPQ Directive and therefore do not benefit from automatic recognition. However, for non-EEA nationals who have completed the whole of their education and training in an EEA state and hold qualifications listed in the MRPQ Directive, ARB may be able to recognise their qualification via their Equivalence Route to registration. ARB considers applications from non-EEA nationals who hold overseas qualifications via their Prescribed Examination Route. Anyone with prescribed UK qualifications can apply via their UK Qualified Route.
What is a no deal Brexit?
In March 2017, the UK government officially notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union. This marked the beginning of a two-year period of negotiation between the UK government and the European Union on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and future relationship, and means that at 11pm, 29 March 2019 the United Kingdom will no longer be a member of the European Union.
The UK government has signalled its intention to enter a transition period that will run between 29 March 2019 and 31 December 2020. This transition period would mean that the UK would still have access to the European Union on similar terms as it does as a full member but will not have decision-making powers within the Union. However, this is contingent on the European Union and UK government agreeing on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and future relationship.
Without this agreement, the UK will be treated as a ‘third country’ from 29 March 2019, with trade determined by World Trade Organisation rules and the UK immediately withdrawn from the rights and responsibilities of the Union – this is the situation commonly referred to as a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. This will affect everything from the rights of citizens not currently resident in their home countries, to the provision of goods and services across borders.
What will happen to my qualifications after 29 March 2019 if there’s no Brexit deal?
In the event of a no deal scenario, the MRPQ Directive would no longer apply to the UK and there would be no system of reciprocal recognition of professional architectural qualifications for the purposes of registration between the remaining EEA states and the UK. The UK government and the European Commission have issued notices which state qualifications which have already been recognised, either in the UK or an EEA state, will not be affected by this.
The UK government has said it will maintain a system of recognition for architects with an approved qualification from a European Economic Area (EEA) state, provided the applicant has access to the profession in their home state. The government intends to amend the Architects Act 1997 to ensure that the current arrangement of automatic recognition of EEA qualified architects in the UK operates as closely as is possible, subject to any immigration rules that may be in place.
The UK will retain a system of recognition for EEA qualifications at exit day that is similar to the current system. The ARB will continue to recognise EEA qualifications that are currently automatically recognised and referred to in point 5.7.1 of Annex V to Directive 2005/36/EC (as of 29 March 2019), provided the applicant has access to the profession in their home state. EEA citizenship will not be a requirement for this system of recognition.
The European Commission has advised EEA nationals holding UK professional qualifications to contact their relevant national authorities before 29 March 2019 to assess whether it is advisable to obtain a recognition decision for their qualifications in an EEA state.
The European Commission has also confirmed that UK nationals will not be covered by the MRPQ Directive in the event of a no-deal scenario and that the recognition decisions after 29 March will be governed by the national policies and rules of each EEA state.
It is expected that professionals who have applied for a recognition decision in the UK and are awaiting a decision on 29 March 2019 will, as far as possible, be able to conclude their applications in line with the provisions of the MRPQ Directive.
Please see the ARB's guidance for architects for further information on registration in the UK in a no deal scenario.
What should I do to make sure my qualifications are recognised in the event of a no deal Brexit?
The RIBA is advising architects practising in the UK to take action soon in order to ensure their qualifications continue to be recognised in the country they plan to practise in, in the event of a no deal Brexit:
I am a UK or EEA professional and have already registered with ARB or an EEA state regulator and do not plan to register in a different country: You do not need to take action as the recognition decision you have received will not be affected.
I am a non-UK EEA national with ARB-prescribed UK qualifications and plan to register in a non-UK EEA state: If you plan to practise in another EEA state after 29 March 2019, you should contact the country’s relevant regulator before this date to seek clarity on whether your qualifications are currently eligible for mutual recognition, and consider applying for a recognition decision with the country’s relevant regulator before this date if necessary.
I am a non-UK EEA national with non-UK EEA qualifications: If you wish to practise under the title “architect” in the UK, you should contact ARB before 29 March 2019 if you have not already done so to seek clarity on whether your qualifications are currently eligible for mutual recognition and apply for registration if necessary.
I am a UK national with ARB-prescribed UK qualifications: If you wish to practise under the title “architect” in the UK you can apply to register with ARB via their UK route. If you plan to practise in another EEA state after 29 March 2019, you should contact country’s relevant regulator to seek clarity on whether your qualifications are currently eligible for mutual recognition and consider applying for registrations before this date if necessary.
I am a UK national with non-UK EEA qualifications: If you wish to practise under the title “architect” in the UK, you should contact the ARB before 29 March 2019 to seek clarity on whether your qualifications are currently eligible for mutual recognition and apply for registration if necessary. If you wish to practise in an EEA state other than the one where you obtained your qualifications, you should contact the country’s relevant regulator to seek clarity on whether your qualifications are currently eligible for mutual recognition and apply for registration if necessary.
- I am a UK national and I have not yet received my qualification: If you are due to receive your UK or EEA qualification before 29 March 2019, you should contact the relevant regulator in the country you plan to practise to seek clarity on whether your qualifications are currently eligible for mutual recognition. If you are due to receive your qualification after 29 March 2019, you should contact the relevant regulator in the country you plan to practise in to seek clarity on that country’s registration policies for non-EEA (third country) nationals.
What is the RIBA doing on Brexit?
The RIBA has been working to represent architects to UK government and Parliament as the UK seeks to negotiate a new relationship with the EU. In March 2018, the RIBA published its second Global By Design report, which outlines the priorities of UK architects on Brexit. The RIBA Brexit page is continuously updated with the latest research, policy notes and guidance.