Securing the future of MRPQ for architects
With Brexit less than a year away, the RIBA is working tirelessly to press government to seek the best possible outcome for the architectural profession – one that enables architects to survive and thrive after Britain leaves the European Union.
When we surveyed RIBA members at the end of 2017 they were unequivocal about what their priorities were. 86% of architects told us that continued access to the best international talent is crucial for the future success of the sector and 79% said that negotiating an ongoing agreement with the EU to continue recognising each other’s professional qualifications is vital. Ensuring that this system, which has hugely enriched British architecture, continues after Brexit has been a top priority for the RIBA since the referendum result.
Mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) has had significant benefits not only for practices in the UK looking to employ talented architects who have trained in Europe, but for British and European architects seeking to work overseas. This was underlined by the unanimous vote in April by the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) of a motion supporting MRPQ proposed by the RIBA, sending a clear message to the European Commission and Parliament and national governments to continue MRPQ after Brexit.
Since the result of the referendum we have met with Secretaries of State, Ministers and civil servants across Government Departments to make the case for a continued agreement. Most recently the RIBA hosted officials from the Department for Business for a roundtable with RIBA members to discuss the impact of Brexit on the profession, at which members made clear that MRPQ has been of enormous benefit to British practices.
We’ve also worked with other professions across the economy to highlight the benefits MRPQ brings and call on the government to secure a deal which works for all. On 2 July, the RIBA joined over 30 leading professional business services organisations in signing a letter to the Prime Minister calling on ministers to secure a deal that protects UK professional services – including maintaining MRPQ.
Speaking about the letter, RIBA CEO Alan Vallance said that it showed “a united front” from businesses across the UK, and that “as we enter this crucial stage in negotiations with the EU, jeopardising our reputation for excellence could have dire consequences for the economy.”
In July, RIBA spoke at an event at the House of Lords alongside representatives from other professions covered by the current MRPQ agreement, including doctors, lawyers and vets. At the roundtable, Brexit Minister Robin Walker underlined that the “global reputation for quality” enjoyed by British professionals, including architects, “has been made possible, in part, by the freedom [we] have had to work and practice outside of the UK and attract key talent from the EEA,” and outlined the government’s plan for a “bold and ambitious agreement” with the EU. “An ambitious agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications,” explained the Minister, “will mean that UK architects can continue to design buildings in Paris, or Berlin.”
The RIBA is encouraged by the government’s position on MRPQ, as outlined in the Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech where she called for continued MRPQ after Brexit, and we are pleased to see this is also reflected in the EU’s own guidelines for the negotiations. We welcomed the transition agreement reached in March that confirmed the UK and EU will continue recognising each other’s qualifications all the way up to December 2020. However, with the Brexit negotiations reaching their final, critical stage, we will continue to make the case for MRPQ and call on both sides to protect this vital enabler of British architecture’s global prominence.