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Business: European Economic Area

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN HL10454, tabled on 17 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendation by the Law Society and the Bar Council in its joint paper Immigration priorities for the legal services sector, published in November, that they should seek to "secure an EU-level treaty commitment to Permitted Paid Engagements throughout the entire period of a business visit and in all areas of legal activity".

Answered on

1 December 2020

As part of the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the EU, it is our intention to agree reciprocal measures on permitted activities for short-term business visitors. We want to build on the EU’s precedents with Japan and Canada, where possible and to our mutual benefit. The purpose would be to ‘lock in’ a list of permitted activities that both Parties must allow, without requiring a work permit.

As is normal in EU trade agreements, some Member States may choose to table exceptions to this list, known as ‘reservations.’ Both Parties can, in practice, allow short-term business visitors to carry out more activities than those committed to in an FTA – and this is at the discretion of each of the immigration systems in question. Whether these activities are permitted visa-free is a matter for each individual Member State and the UK respectively.

The EU has not previously agreed with any of its trade partners a route for short-term business visitors to carry out paid or unpaid activities specific to legal professionals, preferring instead to adhere to its precedents on short-term business visitors.

After the transition period ends, for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, the EU has legislated so that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen Area to undertake a limited range of activities, such as attending business meetings. The types of activities allowed will differ by Member State, and UK nationals should check with their host state before travelling whether the activity they are travelling for requires a visa and/or work permit.

In the UK, EU legal professionals will be able to perform some activities as visitors without the need for a visa. These activities are detailed further on the GOV.UK website.