In a letter to President von der Leyen NUJ's General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet has asked for clarification on the situation of self-employed members who live and work in the European Union.

The National Union of Journalists is the union for journalists and journalism in the UK and Ireland, and also represents members who live and work in the European Union, most of whom are UK nationals, and many of whom are self-employed in a variety of careers including correspondents, reporters, photographers, editors, public relations and other media professionals. Their work often requires them to operate in different EU countries. It has, until now, been standard practice for such UK nationals to live in one EU Member State but work in or provide services to other EU member states. For example, our members may be commissioned to cover an event in one country, by a media organisation based in a second, while living themselves in a third. In order to flourish as self-employed persons they may then sell an article or photograph to media organisations in a fourth country.

Having read the Guidance Note relating to the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community Part Two – Citizens’ Rights (2020/C 173/01) in conjunction with the relevant sections of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (2019/C 384 I/01), the TFEU and Regulation (EU) No 492/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on freedom of movement for workers within the Union it is unclear to us whether these workers are included in the provisions of Articles 24 and 25 of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Could you provide the union with clarification on the situation of self-employed workers engaging in the types of cross-border work outlined above, and whether or not they fall into the definition of a ‘self-employed person’, or a ‘self-employed frontier worker’.

Please could you clarify the following:

  1. Are such workers considered ‘self-employed persons’ or ‘self-employed frontier workers’ under the Withdrawal Agreement
  2. What is the position for these types of workers if the current provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, in particular Articles 24 and 25, remain in force after January 1, 2021
  3. What is the position for these types of workers if there is no Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union on January 1, 2021?

We request this clarification on behalf of members who live and work in the European Union and who would like to continue to do so using experience, expertise and knowledge often built up over decades of Continental European residence, thereby contributing to a healthy and diverse media and cultural landscape – core values of the EU.

Despite the stated purpose of the Withdrawal agreement to “limit to a minimum the disruption to people’s lives which the UK’s departure is likely to cause” we fear that in the current complications surrounding the UK withdrawal from the EU, the voice of this specific cohort of workers could go unheard.

 

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