As the clock struck 2300h GMT on the 31st December 2020, we imagine that most people working in the UK snowsports industry felt a tinge of sadness. Why do we say this? Well, because British Citizens have now lost the freedom of movement afforded by the UK being an EU member state, meaning the friction-less mobility they once had to live, work and travel within the EU has now ended. Entire industries across the UK have spent the past weeks leafing through the text of the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement and it is abundantly clear that the UK now has a very different relationship with the EU; the key word here is trade.
There is no mention of the snowsports profession in the Trade & Cooperation Agreement. There is also no mention of musicians, artists, journalists, nor any mention of “service providers”, a term which describes the sectors which make up approximately 80% of the UK economy at present. As we have previously advised, Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications were also left out of the deal, with only a pathway presented as to how these could be agreed in the future.
It is also abundantly clear that, unless there is a clear arrangement or “provision” for your particular type of industry, sector, profession or activity mentioned in the new UK to EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement, and unless you were able to successfully establish yourself as resident in an EU member state prior to the end of the Transition Period, then you as a British citizen have no legal right to freely pursue that activity in the EU. And if it hasn’t been mentioned in the master agreement between the UK and the EU, it means that the relevant authorities in the UK acting on your behalf now have to negotiate something new, from scratch, with the specific member state(s) in which their members hope to operate. These member states have the discretion & freedom to negotiate as they see fit, provided they don’t breach the terms of the overall Trade & Cooperation Agreement. This doesn’t mean that if something has been left out of the deal it can’t ever happen, or that it is impossible; it simply means that UK citizens no longer have the right to do it without other mechanisms or agreements being put in place.
This all means that, particularly for the UK snowsports industry, BASI consider this deal as it currently stands to be a pretty poor deal and represents a hard change to which the snowsports industry will need to rapidly adapt. However, there is some cause to remain optimistic; as a result of many elements seemingly “missing” from the Trade & Cooperation Agreement, we are already seeing an increase in lobbying activity, whole professions crying foul at being abandoned by the UK Government, and the exact details of arrangements seem to be changing on a daily basis. This may open the door to additional agreements being put in place at the UK:EU level or with specific member states. For example, our friends and colleagues over at Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBiT) continue to work with the French government to explore ways that the UK travel and snowsport industries might be able to carry on working and contributing to the French economy.
No doubt there will be more changes to come, but until they do, we want to share our take on how you may be impacted by the terms of the new Trade & Cooperation Agreement. To do so, BASI has teamed up with the Home Nations Governing Bodies (i.e. Snowsports England, Snowsports Scotland and Snowsports Wales) to develop an aligned view on what the new agreement allows us, as UK Nationals, to do at present and what it doesn’t. In doing so, we have concluded that the biggest issues facing UK national snowsports professionals are:
- The Right to Work and
- Recognition of Qualifications, including what to do if you are mid-way through qualification levels.
We’ll take each issue in turn, assess how things stand right now and then describe the work ahead of us to minimise the damage caused by the Brexit deal we received. We should reiterate, all UK sport governing bodies are trying to makes sense of what the new agreement means for their members, sub-contractors, their operations and their employees; whilst the exact challenges may vary, all are impacted in some way or other and all must adapt to the deal as it stands today. However, by design, there are mechanisms in the Trade & Cooperation Agreement to encourage the ongoing review and resolution of issues as they arise, so it is reasonable to expect further changes over time.
We should also reiterate that this article should not be interpreted as legal advice and that all members are responsible for getting legal advice on their unique individual circumstances. Any Members who deal with commercial organisations offering quick fix solutions to these challenges do so at their own risk.
Your Right to Work
Understandably, many members have a number of questions which relate to this topic. Not all BASI members are British citizens, but for those of you who are, you probably want to know what rights you have, what you can and can’t do, and what information still remains unclear. Here’s what we know today:
- Brexit and the terms of the new Trade & Cooperation Agreement mean that British Citizens’ right to work within the EU has gone. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to, it just means that you can no longer benefit from the same employment rights as other EU citizens under EU law
- If you are planning on/attempting to work as a snowsports instructor in an EU member state and you don’t have a work permit where one is required, then you are effectively breaking local law and you will certainly not be insured. BASI’s communication on insurance coverage resulting from Brexit can be found here
- You may still be able to be employed by a ski school registered in an EU member state, however the exact terms & conditions and prerequisites lie with the member state in question. For example, if you want to go and work in Bulgaria, they may require a work permit, or they may not. Their approach may be different to Sweden or Denmark, who may choose to do something else. The point is that the member states have the discretion to choose as they see fit
- Your potential employer may need to follow certain rules & procedures in order to demonstrate that EU citizens have been offered the position before offering it to a British citizen, and then applying for a work permit
- It does not make a difference if you change your qualifying Association or membership; if you are a British citizen, it’s your nationality that is the hurdle and it doesn’t matter if you try to join IASI, Swiss Snowsports, the CSIA, whoever – you’re British, and that’s the issue. If you’re British, if you hold a US qualification you still can’t teach skiing in the USA without a work permit. An award issued by an EU qualifying association does not grant you working rights
- Some members may be able to legally sell their services from the UK to clients in the EU; however this will be subject to qualification recognition and also local market economic tests which the member state has control over. This is definitely not the same as travelling with clients who are from the UK or have paid you in the UK. Remember, we now have a trade relationship with the EU
- Anyone travelling from the UK to the EU for the purposes of work needs to abide by the terms in the Trade & Cooperation Agreement. Meetings, events, conferences, short-term business trips to negotiate the terms of sale of goods between the UK & EU are all examples of travel which can be done visa-free. Travelling with your sports team as a coach is not. Taking your clients from the UK is not. Travelling to deliver snowsport services to a client paying from the EU might be, subject to local restrictions
Recognition of Qualifications
Equally as important as Working Rights, members also have a number of questions which relate to what value their qualification now has with regards working in the EU market. Here’s what we know today:
- BASI would like to be completely transparent and again state that the automatic recognition of qualifications between the UK and EU has ended
- As mentioned at the start of this blog post, because Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications was left out of the Trade & Cooperation Agreement, a process must now be followed to re-establish a formal recognition between BASI and our EU counterparts now that the UK is no longer a fellow EU member state
- This does not mean that the authorities in EU member states will suddenly choose to not recognise BASI qualifications; although they would be within their legal rights to do so, it would be difficult to justify such a reaction seeing as the BASI L4 Alpine ISTD was written into EU law as being equal to other member states’ qualifications up until the 31st December 2020 and has not changed in terms of structure or criteria since then
- The only difference at present is that British citizens are now not allowed access to the CTT Eurotest events, and this is unlikely to change until BASI are able to negotiate access to these events on different terms. However, BASI members who are EU citizens may be able to attend; we have requested clarity on this point and will let members know when we have an answer
- We want members to know that we are working hard to gain mutual recognition and can confirm that we have now officially commenced negotiations with the snowsports governing bodies for France, Austria, Italy and Germany.
- We ask members to be patient while we continue to work hard and map out the way forward. As we have stated previously, the clarity we are all seeking will likely take months, not weeks to establish. Only time will tell if there is a way to negotiate mutual recognition of qualifications further with the EU.
Future for members who are mid–way through qualifications
It must be pointed out that BASI qualifications continue to be recognised around the world. It is also worth noting that the new UK:Switzerland services agreement is positive news, as the previous agreement for British nationals existed under the terms negotiated between Switzerland and the EU.
We realise there are a number of members who are British citizens who find themselves part-way through their Alpine Level 4 ISTD; we fully empathise with those who are in this situation through no fault of their own, either because COVID prevented them from passing their CTT eurotest or simply because there wasn’t enough time to get everything done. However, we want to assure members that we will strive to find a way forward for them to complete their qualifications and ultimately seek recognition in the country they wish to work in.
As mentioned above, we now know that British citizens cannot attend CTT eurotests in France. We have not officially heard anything else from the other Alpine member states, but our understanding is that a British citizen cannot attend CTT events. This is because the CTT underpins the Delegated Act, the Delegated Act is part of the Qualifications Directive and that Directive is part of EU law. The UK is no longer an EU member state, so no attendance is currently allowed by British citizens at an event used to control the internal workings of the EU.
For some members, there is a way to complete your ISTD Alpine L4 if you wish to, even though that qualification no longer holds the legal rights it once did. For example, if you have already passed your eurotest and have the other L4 modules to finish, you would be able to complete these and be awarded your L4 ISTD. You would not be eligible for an entry into the IMI database, however, which is the way CTT holders are now managed. It must be stressed that that completing the Alpine L4 ISTD does not change the facts of the matter with regards working rights and qualification recognition in EU Members states; yes, you’d have a “complete” qualification, but it is likely you would still need a work permit in order to be employed by an EU snowsport school, and the decision to both allow such a permit and to recognise your qualification would still be at the discretion of the EU members state in which you want to work.
Although the freedom and ease to work within the EU has gone for British citizens, BASI will find a way forward. One thing is for certain, BASI is committed to giving anyone the opportunity to embark on a career in snowsports. We will endeavour to map out and share the various options available to members who seek to establish themselves as snowsports professionals in the EU as these pathways become clearer over time.