What does the ‪‎Brexit‬ mean for cultural cooperation in Europe?

What does the ‪‎British exit from the EU mean for cultural cooperation? Will British cultural organisations still be able to participate in European funding programmes, such as ‪#CreativeEurope? What happens to those currently funded?

Get updates per emailUpdate: DG Culture has released the following statement about the participation of UK cultural institutions in Creative Europe: 

According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member. This therefore also applies to the projects financed through the Creative Europe programme.


Right Now: A Destructive State of Confusion

British markets are in freefall, Scotland is preparing a new referendum for independence and the Northern Irish peace agreement seems in jeopardy – and all of this before Article 50 has even been invoked. But when will the British prime minister make it official? This autumn (see below)? After another referendum or general election? Not at all? The high level or insecurity is having dire consequences for all existing or planned collaborations across the English Channel. Countless UK arts organisations and creatives have expressed their despair about this situation and their desire to continue working together with their European colleagues in articles and on social media.

Phase 1: Negotiating the Divorce (- ca. Oct. 2018)

THE BREXIT DIVORCE PROCESSThe referendum does not mean that Britain is now out of the EU, it’s a legally non-binding vote of the people to leave. In order to start this ‘divorce from Europe’, the British Prime Minister has to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Once this is done, there is a two-year time limit for reaching a deal. Generally seen as a tight deadline, it can be extended only if all 28 member states agree.

Cameron has already declared that he will leave this task to his successor, who should most likely be appointed by the Conservative Party in time for their annual conference on 5 October 2016. This means that – should the successor immediately invoke Article 50 – the UK would be out of the EU by October 2018 the earliest.

Until then, the Brexit should have little impact in existing projects. UK organisations participating in Creative Europe will just be able to continue with their work with their European partners. One thing to remember: grants are given in Euros, to the drastic changes in the exchange rate will impact the project budgets. In theory, there’s no reason why UK organisations should not participate in Creative Europe calls for proposals for new projects. The UK is still an EU member and the future participation in EU funding programmes will have to be negotiated.

Phase 2: ‘Withdrawal & an ‘independent’ UK

United Kingdom flying soloThe other EU member states – without the UK – agree the terms of the UK ‘withdrawal’. There is therefore no guarantee the UK would find the terms acceptable and no direct way for the UK to influence them. The EU Treaties would cease to apply to the UK on the entry into force of a withdrawal agreement (or, if no new agreement is concluded, after two years, unless there is unanimous agreement to extend the negotiating period).

Continued participation in EU programmes such as Creative Europe may be part of the withdrawal negotiation. European Economic Area (EEA) countries, accession and candidate counties as well as the countries of the western Balkans are currently eligible partner in Creative Europe, without being EU members. While it seems unlikely that the UK remains part of the European Economic Area – as this would require an acceptance of free movement of persons – a new ‘eligible’ status may well be found for the UK if this is of mutual interest.

Lastly, UK organisations could participate as third-country partners.  Up to 30% of the overall project budget can go to third-country partners at the moment, but all costs for these must go through one of the full partner organisations’ books. It may then be time to remind those who campaigned for a Brexit to honour their pledge that those affected would get the same funding if the UK votes to leave.

Further Information

UK Referendum on Membership of the European Union: Questions & Answers (European Commission)
European CommissionThe European Commission takes note of the outcome of the UK Referendum. Proceedings under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union will have to be launched. During negotiations under Article 50, European Union Treaties and law continue to apply to the UK. If no agreement is reached within 2 years of the UK activating Article 50, the UK would leave the EU without any new agreement being in place. Read more


Daniel Barenboim on Brexit
Daniel Barenboim“The vote in favor of Brexit is, in my view, a very sad decision for Great Britain and Europe. It is, however, senseless to bathe in pessimism and desperation as Brexit is now an unchangeable historical fact. The best thing to do now is to analyze both the extremist and populist motivations behind the vote to leave, and the serious issues requiring improvement.” Read more


Stronger in Europe (Arts Professional UK)
Arts ProfessionalArts in the UK are stronger and better off thanks to EU membership. As the referendum approaches, Lucy Thomas called for the sector to speak up. Read more


‘Brexit’ Could Have Huge Impact on U.K. Creative Sectors
VarietySpeaking at a debate organised by the Creative Industries Federation at the British Library on April 19, shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle warned that a “Brexit” would have a “huge bearing on arts and creative sectors. Read more


What do you think?

This is new territory for all of us, and we’ll keep you updated on the developments. If you have any updates, comments or thoughts on this please share them with us and the Creatives Europe Connect community. Feel free to subscribe to our updates to be kept informed on any new developments.

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