G4EU's Frequently asked questions
This is our quick guide to some of the key questions about what Brexit actually is and how it works, as well as some stuff specific relating to the interactive entertainment sector. We’ll be publishing a much more detailed guide to Brexit and interactive entertainment soon, and we’ll keep updating this page as Brexit develops too.
We are a grassroots group campaigning for the interactive entertainment industry to help show the dangers of Brexit (especially a no deal or hard Brexit), to reinforce efforts to remain in the EU and (if that ultimately proves impossible) to maintain a close EU relationship to protect our industry.
More info about us can be found here.
1. What exactly is Brexit?
It is the UK’s decision to leave membership of the European Union, a group of 28 sovereign countries across Europe, after joining it in 1973.
2. Why is the UK leaving the EU?
A referendum – open to all eligible voters in the UK – was held on 23 June 2016, with two options: remain a part of the EU or leave the EU. The ‘leave’ option won by 51.9% to 48.1% – a margin of 3.8%.
As for why people voted to leave the EU, some of the reasons most often quoted include reclaiming control for the British government from the EU over certain issues such as immigration, reducing the UK’s financial contribution to the EU and avoiding further EU political/legal integration. Remainers contest many of these arguments hotly.
3. Didn’t the UK leave already?
Not yet. The referendum was not legally binding on its own and needed a formal exit notification to the EU (called the ‘Article 50 notification’), which the UK government triggered on 29 March 2017. This then started a two-year negotiating period for the UK and the EU to try and agree the terms on which the UK will depart.
4. So when does Brexit happen?
29 March 2019 – the date when the two year Article 50 period ends, unless both sides extend it.
5. What is the current status of Brexit?
The UK and EU are negotiating a deal on the exact details of how the UK leaves and what the future for them looks like. Some elements are agreed. There is a ‘divorce bill’ in which the UK will continue to pay its existing financial commitments to the EU for some time. There have also been discussions over the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU. But there are two big open points. The first is over the status of Northern Ireland post-Brexit. The second is the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU.
Time is now very short to reach a deal, since it needs time to be approved on both sides in 2018 in time for Brexit Day itself in March 2019.
6. What’s the difference between ‘soft’, ‘hard’ and ‘no deal’ Brexit?
They are all different Brexit forms, depending on what the UK prioritises the most.
‘Soft’ Brexit usually refers to an arrangement in which the UK formally leaves the EU but stays in a close relationship with the EU similar to the previous UK/EU relationship. This is usually achieved by the UK remaining in either or both of the “Single Market” (which allows goods, services, labour and money to move and be traded freely through the EU) and/or the “Customs Union” (which involves member states setting common tariffs - tax levels - from goods coming into the EU from outside, and not imposing any tariffs against goods imported between EU states). Soft Brexit gives the UK a closer trading relationship to the EU but comes at the cost of the UK not being able to do its own trade deals in the future. Brexit supporters argue that remaining within the “Single Market” and/or “Customs Union” will mean that the UK will still be subject to EU laws (Remainers think this is actually a good thing).
Hard Brexit means a very different and looser relationship between the UK and EU in which the UK leaves most of the structures of the EU. The UK would not be subject to EU laws in the same way but would not benefit from them either. The UK would probably be free to strike its own trade deals around the world but would not have nearly the same access to EU trade. Hard Brexit fans argue that it will deliver on the results of the referendum and create new opportunities for the UK (like the ability to do its own trade deals and not be bound to any new EU laws). Hard Brexit opponents say the evidence shows it will be disastrous for the UK economy.
A ‘no deal’ Brexit is the most extreme position on the ‘hard Brexit’ side, where the UK not only leaves all EU structure but also fails to (or chooses not to) come to any other agreement with the EU about the future relationship between the UK and the EU at all. Only the hardest of Brexit supporters support this outcome.
These aren’t even the only forms of Brexit, btw. There are at least ten different forms that Brexit could take, by our estimation, and there may well be more.
7. Why is Games4EU opposing Brexit?
We have seen since 2016 that the Brexit process is nothing like what was promised by the Leave campaigns. Our own in-depth analysis goes into detail on the overwhelmingly negative impact a no deal or hard Brexit would have on our industry and consumers across areas including: customs and trade barriers; access to talent; exiting the EU VAT area; and exiting and losing influence over the EU systems for data sharing, IP protection, regulation and company law. More than that, our supporters tell us about the negative impact of Brexit on making games in the UK from a social, cultural and values perspective. All of this when we should be continuing to grow our position as a British success story.
8 So can I still play my favourite games or watch my favourite YouTuber after Brexit?
We don’t know for sure. Probably yes (no-one is that crazy... right?) but we don’t know exactly how that would work and what it would mean in the worst forms of Brexit. The UK has always been a member of the EU since games, esports, YouTube, Twitch etc began so we know how the system works. We don’t know what happens after Brexit. We know how much games will cost while we’re in the EU’s system because of things like there not being any extra costs on games or hardware crossing from Germany to the UK. Or having the same basic legal rules on data protection and IP across the EU. Or how platforms like iOS Store or PSN can charge VAT. We don’t know how they work after Brexit - both the EU and the UK government have told us it’s going to change a lot. In the worst case, it might be easier just to shut the UK off from some products, or at least not to be thinking about it first.
9. How much will games cost after Brexit?
Games will cost more. Hardware as well. Subscriptions too. We can’t be sure exactly how much but we fear a combination of EU tariffs applying to UK imports, plus the massive regulation changes if we crash out of e.g. the VAT, IP and data systems, plus currency depreciation (£ will buy less $ or €) means we could see anywhere from 5% - 25% higher prices over time.
10. Will I still have the same consumer rights after Brexit?
No. Right now if you buy, say, a console or some merchandise from someone in Germany or Poland you can get an exchange or refund if it doesn’t work, or you don’t like it (within certain requirements) or it breaks. Or if you’re a Brit using your phone in the EU then the mobile phone companies can’t charge you data roaming rates above a certain level and usually just let you use your home data tariff. The EU has been clear that UK citizens lose all those rights after Brexit. UK consumers within the UK have a lot of consumer rights that come from EU law - the government says that they will stay in UK law after Brexit, but now we have to trust Parliament to keep them and not change them.
11. Will games still be made in the UK after Brexit?
Our industry isn’t going anywhere – we’ve been in the UK almost as long as the UK was a member of the EU. But we are worried, really worried, about what the UK industry will suffer post-Brexit. More on that soon in our detailed guide.
12. What happens to data after Brexit?
We don’t know. We all hope that the UK and EU can reach a side-deal no matter what happens in Brexit. This really matters because every major online service needs the free movement of data to work. We’re talking everything from Facebook and Reddit through to your favourite indie game. The global giants will be OK, they can afford the expensive workarounds. But it heaps pressure on small and medium sized games businesses with unpredictable consequences. We have already seen a bunch of games and services being negatively impacted in the UK and EU due to recent EU data protection changes called GDPR (which the UK was heavily involved in creating) – we ain’t seen nothing yet.
13. Can I still hire talent from the EU after Brexit?
Yes, technically, but we have no idea how it’s going to work. The UK government hasn’t spelled out exactly how the immigration system is going to work post-Brexit but every indication so far is that it is going to be much harder than the current system in which the right skilled EU worker can move very easily to a UK position. UK games industry association Ukie found that over half of UK games companies hire EU nationals and, for those companies, EU nationals form over one third of their workforce. Esports companies rely on esports talent flying into the UK and out around the EU very regularly and with minimal immigration hassles. All of this seems likely to change radically after Brexit under the current government’s plans. There are some suggestions there could be a minimum £30k annual salary requirement for example.
It will also be harder for EU students to study in the UK and for UK students to study in the EU, or for either to benefit from internships/apprenticeships/graduate schemes after Brexit, in part due to the above changes but also the currently expected end of UK participation in the EU’s Erasmus programme (the EU's programme of subsidising and facilitating EU students to study in another Member State).
14. Can I still get EU funding grants from the EU after Brexit?
No. At the moment, the UK can participate in funding schemes like Creative Europe through EU membership. This has funded many UK indie games in particular. It goes after Brexit unless/until the UK and EU can figure a solution out (and there is zero talk of that right now).
15. What happens to game age ratings after Brexit?
These are technically unaffected because they don’t come from the EU anyway. But post-Brexit the UK will have less or zero influence if the EU decided e.g. to take legal action over copyright rules in YouTube videos or in streams, or loot box regulation in esports and multiplayer games.
16. What happens to video game tax relief after Brexit?
Technically the UK would be free to offer what tax breaks it wants to the UK interactive entertainment industries post-Brexit so it could go way higher than it currently does. There are a few reasons we think that’s unlikely in the foreseeable future: (1) the UK government is offering to voluntarily follow EU ‘State Aid’ rules that would prevent it; (2) it would run the risk of sparking an arms race with the EU; and (3) on the UK government’s own analysis, the UK is unlikely to be able to afford wholesale tax cutting schemes.
17. What about all these new digital rules the EU is creating?
The EU is building a ‘Digital Single Market’ strategy to try to make it easier to sell and use digital content across the EU. For example, to make it easier to be able to view a streamed video on Netflix in all EU countries and not just one. It also wants to update rules on intellectual property law (controversially). While technically the UK will be free of these rules post-Brexit, in reality it will be more complicated. We won’t benefit from the advantages it brings and since the EU market is so massive UK companies will be obliged to follow the EU rules anyway as a price of doing business there.
18. What happens if my company has a dispute with an EU company after Brexit?
It’s going to be harder to win and recover what you need. At the moment there is a legal system for EU Member States facilitating them to resolve disputes with each other and for the winner to recover what it needs to. Post-Brexit we will fall out of that system and that will make it harder for UK companies over time.
19. Why is Games4EU writing to MPs and the press?
We believe from our work so far (including discussions with notable MPs) that Brexit will come down to a knife-edge in Parliament and so anything that we can do to influence MPs - especially those who are in games clusters or who have other interests with the industry - will mean UK interactive entertainment is playing its part. There is real value in making our voice heard.
20. Why is Games4EU supporting a People’s Vote?
Given the evidence, the best outcome for our industry is still for the UK to remain in the EU (or, if that ultimately proves impossible, a soft Brexit). A referendum on the final outcome of the Brexit process puts that possibility back on the agenda. We fully recognise that there are complexities here and we are more than happy to talk through the detail with you.
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