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Settled Status deadline, freelancing in the EU, bank account woes...

Brexit update

AS THE transition period following Brexit near its end, there is still little prospect of a trade deal between the EU and the UK, with the UK government apparently determined to deliberately crash out without a deal.

EU nationals living in the UK - including many of our members - who can prove they were resident there before 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to apply for EU Settled Status. They risk deportation if they've not sorted out their Settled Status by then. The Freelance understands, though, that only a very small proportion of EU nationals resident here have yet to apply.

Meanwhile, our members who are UK nationals living in the EU apparently face trouble selling their services as freelances across EU borders after the transition period ends on 1 January. (See here for details.) The NUJ's Continental European Council reports that some UK freelances resident in the EU have already been dropped by publications or have been told that they will no longer get work from the end of the year. Just the uncertainty is enough to make them do that...

In countries where it is legal to do so, UK freelances could set up companies that would operate as legal entities of that country and could continue to sell services within the Single Market. This obviously depends on company law in that country into which you want to sell services.

A survey of NUJ members resident in the EU is imminent, as is a lobbying letter drafted by the NUJ. A video meeting for NUJ members on the Continent of Europe on this topic is also being set up.

The British in Europe organisation is pursuing legal action over the rights of UK nationals to operate as self-employed sole traders across EU borders after Brexit. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, UK nationals who live in the EU have been receiving letters from their UK banks telling them that, as Brexit nears, they are closing down their accounts.

In some cases, customers living in the EU have been told they'll be sent a cheque for the balance of what's in their account. The Guardian reports that Barclays, Coutts and Lloyds Banking Group (the latter includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland) have sent letters to customers across the EU telling them their accounts will be closed.

Some UK banks already have an EU subsidiary, so customers will be able to transfer their account to that subsidiary. NatWest and Santander are "keeping the situation under review" but currently have no plans to close accounts of UK nationals in the EU. HSBC believes that as an "international bank" it can still operate in the EU and pledges to keep customers informed.

UK banks are terminating their customers' accounts in the EU because "passporting"rights that bring the UK into the same regulatory framework across the EU end on 31 December. A trade deal between the EU and the UK which includes passporting has yet to be concluded. Some UK banks have decided that while they could probably get licences to continue operating in EU countries as before, it's currently not worth the bother to do so.

The UK has passed legislation that - in theory at least - allows EU banks to operate in the UK after Brexit, so EU nationals resident in the UK should be able to keep their accounts with EU banks. If you are a customer of an EU bank and your address is in the UK, there's no harm in checking with your bank about what will happen to your account on 1 January.