As the date for Britain to leave the EU is pushed again, many in the kids industry are hanging in the balance. Access to Creative Europe funding and employment are among their top concerns.
When the UK voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 52% to 48% in the country’s historic 2016 referendum, no one expected the exit process would be easy or swift. But few could have anticipated how complex, complicated and divisive the entire process could be, or what impact it may have on kids producers, who are waiting to see how things shake out and what the ramifications will be for their businesses.
Nearly four years after the vote, Britain’s scheduled withdrawal from the EU was supposed to happen today, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pro-Brexit plan was thwarted on Monday when the EU granted a three-month extension of Article 50 to January 31, 2020. (Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is the formal legal process for the UK’s divorce settlement with the EU.)
Without getting too bogged down in the details, here’s a quick recap: Johnson’s Brexit deal was agreed with in principle by the EU on October 17, but still required UK parliamentary ratification before the October 31 deadline. With the clock ticking, the PM hatched a plan to fast-track the bill, but parliament (currently a minority government) rejected it, leading Johnson to pause the deal and press for a general election instead. He was then forced to request a three-month Brexit extension, which the EU confirmed and now the UK is headed for its third general election in four years on December 12.
Depending on the outcome, four scenarios are possible—the UK could leave the EU on January 31 with Johnson’s existing EU-approved deal, but a new version would need to be introduced and passed in the new UK parliament; the UK could leave at the end of January without a withdrawal agreement if the British parliament fails to ratify Johnson’s deal and secure another delay; a second referendum could be called; or Brexit could be cancelled outright by revoking Article 50.
So, where does this leave UK animation producers who continue to prepare and cope with the uncertainty of Brexit while running their businesses?
What happens to the financial support?
The most important thing for London-based Lupus Films (We’re Going On a Bear Hunt) will be how Brexit affects the Creative Europe Media program, according to Ruth Fielding, joint managing director. Creative Media Europe provides funding, training and networking opportunities across film, television, new media and video games. (The program earmarked US$1.6 billion to support European projects from 2014 to 2020 within its Culture and Media schemes. In its first four years, US$99 million was awarded to 376 UK-based cultural and creative organizations and audiovisual companies, and the program helped distribute 190 UK films in other European countries.)