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U.K. Parliament Passes Brexit Law, Leaving Film, TV Incentives Unaffected

Ed Meza

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The U.K. Parliament on Wednesday evening passed legislation paving the way for the country to leave the European Union on Jan. 31, 2020.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. had “crossed the Brexit finish line” following passage of the Withdrawal Agreement, which will officially become law when it receives royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II, which could happen as early as Thursday. The European Parliament is expected to approve the EU Bill next week.

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“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson said in a statement.

The bill cleared its final hurdle after the government overturned five House of Lords amendments to it, including one that would have restored the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the U.K.

The approved bill covers the country’s exit from the EU, the rights of EU nationals living in Britain and British expatriates residing in EU member states.

The impact of Brexit on the film and TV industry is expected to be minimal, at least for the near future. The Withdrawal Agreement will not affect the U.K.’s Creative Sector Tax Reliefs, including those available for the film and TV sectors.

Content will still qualify for the applicable tax relief if it passes the U.K.’s relevant cultural test, according the British Film Institute (BFI). Creative sector cultural tests will also continue to recognize content and personnel from the European Economic Area. The BFI points out that some minor changes would be required if the U.K. were to continue to qualify for incentives in some EU member states after Brexit.

The BFI and the U.K. government are working with EU member states to ensure U.K. content and personnel will continue to qualify.

In addition, all co-production agreements, including bi-lateral co-production treaties and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production signed by the U.K., will remain in place after Brexit. The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production is governed by the Council of Europe, not the EU, and the U.K. will continue to be a party to the Convention.

The Political Declaration accompanying the Brexit deal states the broad intentions for negotiation on key areas for the film and TV sectors, including participation in EU programs like Creative Europe, intellectual property and movement of people.

The U.K. will be able to participate in the current Creative Europe program until it ends in December 2020. U.K. projects would be able to apply for funding up until that point.

The U.K.’s exit from the EU brings to an end the lengthy and tumultuous divorce proceedings that followed a June 2016 referendum in which 51.9% voted to leave. The UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017. With passage of the agreement, the U.K. ends a 47-year relationship with the EU.

 

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