Here is the latest report to the National Executive Council from NUJ Netherlands chair Tony Sheldon and Continental European Council (CEC) chair Cailin Mackenzie who sit as a job-share on the NEC.

It gives the latest position and the action the union is taking.

Because the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) wasn’t finalised until the end of December it was unclear what provision, if any, would be made for cross-border working for our members.

Whilst all NUJ members are potentially affected, it is particularly problematic for UK nationals resident in Continental Europe as they often provide services and/or travel across borders. It is now clear that no provision has been made to allow this to continue smoothly and it is currently unclear what paperwork is required to continue working cross-border. It is up to individual Member States to create their own rules round work permits, and the few times our members have asked how they should proceed there has been no useful response, either because the person contacted in, for example, Paris or Berlin, didn’t know or the email hasn’t been answered.

The scale of the problem is significant. The union has started working in the UK and at EU level to raise the issue with a view to trying to obtain a long-term solution, ideally a reciprocal agreement between the EU and the UK to allow for visa-free travel for journalists and media workers. This is going to take time, and things are constantly changing, but the current focus is on the European Parliament as it is in the process of ‘approving’ the TCA and that provides us with an opportunity to attach something/flank the voting process which will be a springboard to other action at Commission and Council of Ministers level. As things stand the European Parliamentary process to approve the TCA will be finished by the end of April at the latest.

The Continental European (CE) branches and members have been gathering information and sharing case studies, and the Continental European Council (CEC) is co-ordinating the work and liaising with Headland House and other bodies.

Each of the three branches, Netherlands, Brussels and Paris has different membership as well as different networks and possible lobbying routes making the joint working essential and productive.

The issue was raised in NUJ Branch.

So far the General Secretary has sent letters to the following:

Sabine Verheyen, Chair of the Culture and Education Committee (CULT)

Anna Cavazzini, Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)

Bernd Lange, Chair of the Committee on International Trade (INTA) – joint lead on the TCA

David McAllister, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) – joint lead on the TCA

Responses have been received from:

Anna Cavazzini's office saying they are happy to consider the issue in their ongoing debates.

David McAllister, who forwarded the letter to Kati Piri and Christophe Hansen, the responsible co-rapporteurs in the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on International Trade.

At a meeting organised by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D Group) of the European Parliament, Esther Lynch, Deputy General Secretary of the ETUC was a keynote speaker and specifically raised our concerns in her speech and stressed the importance of resolving these matters in a manner that secures media plurality.

The Chair of the Netherlands branch managed to obtain a response from Dutch MEP Kati Piri’s office, which is essential to further action as she is the rapporteur on one of the lead committees dealing with the TCA (as mentioned above in David McAllister’s response), as well as Vice-Chair of the S&D Group (which Esther Lynch addressed). She had not responded to other attempts at contact. A member of her staff has provided us with helpful information on where we can focus action in order to obtain something from the Parliamentary process. 

It is important to understand that there are two groups of members affected: those who don’t move cross-border to work but provide cross-border services, and those who move cross-border to work and provide services. Some members belong to both groups. 

Those who don’t cross borders are most affected by individual tax provisions in the states they live in and work in, and that in turn is dictated by their working status in their country of residence. It varies across the Member States. 

Those who do cross borders will need some form of paperwork to allow them to travel for work. Ideally we wish to obtain a reciprocal agreement between the UK and the EU to allow for visa-free working for UK and EU nationals whose movement is restricted by the TCA. 

We would like to thank the GS, the AGS, the freelance officer and the campaigns team for helping us, often at the last minute, react and lobby on this issue. We know there is a lot of work ahead of us but we’ve made a start. 

Cailin Mackenzie and Tony Sheldon, CE reps

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