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“It’s crunch time” - RIBA outlines urgent post-Brexit priorities for Government

31 January 2020

As the UK formally leaves the European Union (EU) and trade negotiations begin, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is warning the Government of the consequences of a trade deal which denies market access to the UK’s world-leading architecture businesses.

With one in five architects (registered with the Architects Registration Board) from Europe and 60% of construction products sourced from EU countries, the future trade agreement between the EU and UK will significantly impact the success of the UK’s architecture sector. The RIBA therefore strongly urges the Government to:

• Urgently strike a new agreement over Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications, allowing EU architects to train and practice in the UK and vice versa

• Urgently secure a Trade in Services Agreement that enables the UK and European market for architecture services to grow

• Ensure that high standards for construction products continue, and that goods can be imported and exported without unnecessary administrative burdens.

Alan Vallance, RIBA CEO, said:

“Strong connections to Europe are critical for the ongoing success of the UK’s global architecture sector.

Without mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) and frictionless movement of goods, architecture practices across the UK will struggle to recruit talent and source the products they need.

This puts tackling major policy challenges at risk – from solving the housing crisis to reducing carbon emissions of the built environment.

The Government must ensure architects’ qualifications are recognised post-Brexit and negotiate an agreement that furthers the UK’s reputation for quality, innovation and high standards. It’s crunch time – we need a secure post-Brexit future for our profession.”

Jo Bacon, Allies and Morrison, RIBA Vice President International, said:

“Almost 40% of employees at Allies and Morrison come from overseas, and around 20% of our projects are located worldwide. Our work contributes to a vital UK income stream of almost £625 million per annum secured by RIBA Chartered Practices across the world. It is therefore absolutely vital that we continue to have access to new work and the best talent globally after we exit the European Union.”

Barbara Kaucky, Erect Architecture, RIBA Small Practice Group Chair, said:

“As a small practice we are concerned that Brexit might bring about a drop in standards, rises in construction costs and barriers to foreign talent staying in or moving to the UK.

We want to ensure that talented architecture graduates from Europe and further afield can still decide to live and work in the UK. Qualifying salary thresholds should be kept low and immigration procedures should be affordable and straightforward. We are currently employing an architectural assistant under a Tier 2 visa and are finding the process admin-heavy and expensive.

To protect our clients from a compromise in quality, and sustainability as well as price increases, we hope that any trade agreement includes an alignment of standards and frictionless movement of goods.”

Access the RIBA’s Practice Resilience Toolkit for tips, tools and strategies on how to work through tough economic times.

For members with specific queries about Brexit, email


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact +44 (0) 20 7307 3811

2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.

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