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Studio updates.

Freedom of Movement 30 - Larnaca

Maria Chira (Yaya Maritsia) was born in Cyprus.

We meet on the promenade in Larnaca, near the Castle. She is accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ualentina, who is from Khazakhstan, and will be translating.
Yaya Maritsia has brought flowers - the most astonishing bouquet. “They’re for you, from her garden”, explains Ualentina. I’m not used to being brought flowers by anyone, let alone strangers. I’m very touched.

I’ve decided that we should do the shoot in Larnaca Castle as it’s historic and shady.
Maritsia doesn’t seem keen, but obliges. Once we are done, Ualentina tells me that it’s because the castle was built by the Ottomans. Yaya would have preferred somewhere with Orthodox Christian significance and, as luck would have it, the church of St Lazarus is just a couple of streets away, and has a shady cloister. We decide that that’s probably where the best shots will be made, and Maritsia does seem a lot happier there.

I apologise for my insensitivity, lack of planning and taking up lots of their time, and am told not to be so silly. I buy coffee for all of us. I had offered to buy lunch, but Yaya is having none of it. I’m the guest, after all. She had, it seemed, planned to invite me back to the family home to cook for me. Sadly, I have another shoot that afternoon, and have to decline, but have promised to go back and visit, to make amends for my faux pas.

This means that we didn’t have time to do an interview on Maritsia’s views on the benefits of Free Movement, so I asked her granddaughter Dr Maria Spyrou to fill in a questonaire with her, and this is the result.

Many of her grandchildren have studied in other EU countries - the UK, Greece and France - and some of them now live permanently abroad.

Yaya Maritsia doesn’t travel for work (“I’m retired!”) but does travel to see her family around Europe, for holidays and, especially as a proud grandmother, to her grandchildrens graduation ceremonies. 

For her, a loss of free movement rights would be inconvenient, but for her family it would be severely restrictive. No longer would her family be able to live and work freely in Europe, they would be restricted to life in Cyprus or, as before Cyprus joined the EU, to permanent emigration if they wished to live abroad. 

Loss of Free movement could also mean that her family in the UK could be directly affected by, for example, being treated unfairly. But she thinks we all lose if we restrict travel and immigration: Freedom of movement allows people to experience other countries and cultures without the need for  a visa. It allows you to study and work where you will be most needed. Some of my grandchildren have decided to emigrate but I’m happy that they are happy and achieving their best potential.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 33 - Praia da Luz

Tuck Price and Gregg Forte.

Immigration and free movement are a pretty big deal for Tuck and Gregg.

Tuck is from the US, but a British Citizen. Gregg was born in London to an Italian family, originally from Amalfi.
Tuck left the US to travel and work in Europe, before moving to the UK and settling in London. He them moved to Portugal to set up a holiday business and an event planning business. Gregg worked in his family business in London and then in France before moving to Portugal.

Both Tuck and Gregg travel a lot for business - they are wedding planners, and travel to source props, equipment, ideas, etc, as well as to visit family in the UK and Italy.
As their clients are almost always from the UK, their businesses very much depend on the ability of Brits to travel to and from Europe. Travel restrictions and customs/import duties could, potentially, lead to their businesses becoming unviable. Just how much of a negative impact the UK leaving the EU might have on their businesses would very much depend on how it left the EU and the terms of any deal, but the uncertainty is there.

Their residency status, however, does seem assured.

“We have so many friends who are with, married to Europeans and other nationalities and who have had children who then grow up in Portugal.

One of the quite usual patterns has been that kids with one or two UK parents will complete their basic studies here in Portugal and then go to the UK to do further education or to gain work experience. This may change as tuition fees might be prohibitive for Portuguese residents ( who may be UK citizens- here you can have dual nationality).

Also, as I mentioned before, importing costs will make it necessary for us to raise our prices and could therefore make it unaffordable for our clients.

We will also GREATLY miss the opportunity to move as we choose and experience different countries and cultures.”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 31 - Limassol

Laine 

Laine is from Latvia.
She has been an Erasmus intern here twice, and now sees herself staying “…more or less permanently” in Cyprus. 

It has helped her to grow as a person - to overcome fears, meet people, see other cultures. Her first Erasmus studentship was in Portugal, studying for 5 months. It was her first time away from Latvia, her first flight, her first use of English outside the classroom. “It changed my mind and my life.”

After that, she spent 4 moths in Split, Croatia, then found Cyprus placement, and came here directly from Croatia without going back to Latvia.

Laine is still passionate about Latvia and it’s traditions, she proud of her heritage. “Wherever I go I will still be Latvian. Everwhere I go I will have new experiences - it’s always worth it.”

Rebekka

Rebekka is a student, reading for a Bachelors degree in International Businesses - Eastern Europe. She’s an Erasmus Plus intern in Limassol for six months. Today is her first day in Cyprus.

Rebekka has a mixed experience of free movement: As the daughter of German Russian immigrants (Germans who were born and raised in Russia, near the Black Sea, who then moved back to Germany two years before she was born) she feels she fits neither culture very well.

Culturally, she feels like an outsider in Germany, and tends to make friends with non-Germans - there are immigrants from all over the world in her friendship circle - as she is “Not German enough” at home, even though she was born there.

Before moving to Cyprus she was living in St Petersburg for four months, where she managed to feel a bit more Russian by “Always being late for school, but never later than the teacher” although she says she was always “…looking at things with a German eye.”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 29 - Athens

“I got my BSc in Tourism management studies from the Alexandrian Technological Institution of Thessaloniki. Following that, I moved to Guildford, UK where I got an MSc degree in Communication and International Management from the University of Surrey. 

I currently work as an Account Manager in Booking.com. Before I moved back to Greece, I lived and worked in London for three years. I worked as a Sales Planner in TripAdvisor where I was based in Soho and as a front office supervisor in Blakes hotel, which is located in Kensington.

My whole professional career, so far, is built in the field of Tourism management. Free movement of people is a prerequisite for the tourism industry to survive. On my daily routine, I am communicating with people from all over the world, who are visiting Greece, for business or leisure. Free movement is highly related to my day-to-day job.

My brother lives in London with his family. My best friend is permanently based in Nottingham. My other best friend lives in Toulouse for the last three years. With half of my “family” living abroad, for me free movement is essential. There hasn’t been a single year since I returned to Greece, that I haven’t travelled to the UK to see them and spend some time with them.

If you’re faced with a choice that limits your ability to live and work in other places - think twice, and travel, before you run out of time. “

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 32 - Bucharest

Razvan Bolba. Aerospace Engineer, Bucharest, Romania.

”Loss of free movement would be a disaster for my employer. It’s an international company and the general director travels quite often to Romania, it’s crucial for the functioning and wellbeing of the company.”

“Freedom of movement has definitely had it’s benefits for my family, as well as the wider Romanian population. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s several of my family emigrated, in hope of a better life. Some of them succeeded: they made some money and returned home to live a better life, opening a small business.”  

“At the moment I prefer to remain in Romania, even though it is plagued by a corruption, and not seek a potentially better life in another EU country. Instead, I’ll stay here and hope to make a positive change to my country. I have the chance to make something better here. Maybe one day I’ll give up , but for the moment I’m here to make it better for myself and for those that will come.”
”If my own free movement was restricted, travelling would be a bit more of a hassle. Generally, foreign companies may end up paying extra taxes and suffering restrictions wich in turn would probably lead to lower wages for employees. Also my collaborations with EU people would be affected, as we exchange written mail and parcels and I assume both costs and delivery times would raise.” 

“Just by needing to get a visa to simply go to an event or concert in the UK I’d say could be quite a pain. I don’t even want to think how complicated it would be to have the need to relocate for studies, work, or emigrate there. Of course, there are also economic aspects, but I don`t think I am sufficiently informed to comment on these.”

“Being so involved with my NGO (Romanian Military Archaeology) and in historical reenactment means I have a lot of contact with foreigners and made quite a few friends and collaborators around Europe, with whom I exchange mail, parcels, sometime we visit each other, etc. Sometimes you want to go to an event and meet your friends there. Sometimes you want to buy someone’s book. Other times you want to go to a museum to do some study and so on. With the current situation all you have to do is choose a plane ticket and maybe exchange some money. Think about how much this changes when you need a visa to go visit a museum, or go see a friend in the UK for his birthday.” 

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 28 - Athens

Dr Eirini Mantesi was born in a suburb of Athens, Greece.
Since May 2013, she has lived in Nottingham, UK. Eirini studied in Athens, in the School of Architecture at National Technical University of Athens, and now works as a research associate in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering at Loughborough University, UK.

Her fiancee, Antonis, who also Greek but from the north of the country, lives with her in Nottingham and works for a Greek online gaming company based in Malta.

“The University relies a lot on the free movement of students (non-UK students who study in Loughborough University), but also on the free movement of researchers and academics, who travel to other Universities and other countries as visiting researchers, for collaborative research projects, to attend conferences and meetings.  A loss of free movement would have a devastating impact in the ability of the university - any university - to do research and collaboration, and to attract overseas students. ”

“The most obvious impact for me and my family if we no longer had the right to free movement would be to experience first hand the “gap in geography” that exists between us. Something that for the moment is not as obvious, since we have the option to travel back and forth easily and, on the spot, without having to fill in any paperwork, arrange travel visas etc.”

“Travelling (and living for some time abroad) is the best form of education and it would be a pity to voluntarily give up this opportunity. Furthermore, being someone who has experienced the good and the “bad” times of my own country, it is always better to keep your options open, you never know what the future might bring.”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 27 - Sofia

“Barry in Beirut” is the name he goes by on the internet. He is, in fact, in Bulgaria.

Barry grew up in the East End of London. “I was the Cockney Billy Elliott. My dad wanted me to box and play football, but I wanted to dance and sing”.
Barry worked in advertising, for Saatchi & Saatchi in London, then various european offices - Moscow, Milan, Rome, Riga, Ljubljana, Vienna, Bucharest, Hamburg, Amsterdam, which gave him the travel bug. He then took a 4 year posting in Beirut, which, he says, was an idea he got from his dad, who was stationed there when he was in the army. 

After that, he came back to Europe, and has been in Bulgaria for the last two years.

He loves it. “From a creative perspective, living abroad keeps you on edge - a bit more amplified - it’s always new, you have to work a bit harder, it’s good for your mind.”

The city has a buzz of optimism, developent, co-operation, opportunity. Ex-pat Bulgarians are returning, bringing with them ideas, connections and money from across the world.

When it comes to the creative sector, skill sets are transferrable across borders - the writers, artists, etc all have the skills that are relevant and applicable in that industry, and these were the same skills that were valued everywhere.  People could come and go, work in similar jobs in similar companies in many different countries.

The country is cheap. The workforce is educated, motivated and mostly bi-lingual. There’s a lot of STEM and technical expertise, which is what the former Warsaw Pact countries’ education systems excelled at. 

“These days, when I get into a taxi, the driver will ask where I’m from, and it’s “Haha! Brexit!” They find out that the rest of the world isn’t as perfect as they’d been led to believe. They think it’s hilarious.”


Who says free movement is just for posh people?

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 26 - Zagreb

Josi is Croatian.
She was born and raised in Köln, then in West Germany, by Croatian parents who had arrived as young migrant workers and, eventually, owned their own restaurant.
Josi studied for a semester at Oxford Brookes as Erasmus student, where she met Rob, who introduced us.
After university, she moved to Croatia to work for RTL. “Accidentally”, she says.

Josi and her husband now have a chain of opticians. This means that they are often travelling for work, looking for new styles to sell.
“We were just in Milan for the fashion collections. Twice in ten days. It’s nice to have the opportunity to be free”.

She tells me that, between them, they travel within the EU several times a month. Without that ability, their business would suffer.

Josi also tells me of a time when it was harder for her to take freedom for granted:

“When I studied in UK, I went home to Germany for Christmas. Within those ten days, the regulations changed and anyone with a Croatian passport now needed a visa to enter the UK.
So, even though I was a student in the UK, I was denied entry. I was put in the interview room, and deported to Germany, to get my visa.
So, I decided to lose the Croatian passport, and applied for Geman citizenship. It’s not automatic, but I was born and lived there, so it ws straightforward. Now I have a German passport as a result.”

“Sometimes I have these moments when  realise that I’m so lucky to live here. Zagreb is a nice size city. In Paris or London (I was there recently), it feels too much. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my children to such a city.”
“I’d like my children to travel too. They only speak Croatian at home, even though I talk to them in German too. I think that being sent to a summer school to learn another language would benefit them enormously, but I don’t want to spoil them. I only began travelling when I was a student, and I was very grateful for the opprounity. I’d like them to appreciate that freedom, not take it for granted.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 25 - Mdina.

I meet Jackie in Valletta, and she suggests looking for a location in The Silent City. It’s the old walled city of Mdina, and it really is special. Very quiet.
It’s also pretty windy, so we don’t hang about with lights and softboxes. We get the job done in a tiny back street, and then move to a local restaurant with a view for lunch.

“I’m British at heart, and always will be.”

Jackie is half-Brtish, half-German. She was born and grew up in Germany, (in an army family). She moved a great many times while growing up, so freedom of movement is nothing new. After college she moved to Australia, then moved to the UK for about 10 years, before moving here about a year ago, with her parents.

Jackie is bilingual, a German speaker, and works for a German online gaming company.

“Germans are hardworking, precise, take a pride in their work, but they are also the hardest people to manage.
The industry is big in Malta. Money is good, but it’s not very convenient to get here from most places, so it’s not a place where people come and go; people stay for a year and earn their bonuses before moving on.”

Jackie is thinking of moving back to the UK in the next year. “I knew before I moved here that it was too small - it was only ever going to be a short-term thing, 2 - 4 years.”

I ask her about dual citizenship, which she’s entitled to, as a UK/German citizen. She didn’t apply for it, but decided instead to waive her German citizenship - too much hassle, as Germany doesn’t like dual nationality. Besides, she says, she feels more British than anything. 

She and her family have jobs in Malta and have applied for the Maltese ID card, so will be free to come and go after the UK leaves the EU - her parents are not planning on moving away from Malta. 

So, although it may not be the same for other EU countries, she will at least retain her freedom of movement in and out of Malta.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 24 - Warsaw

I have no need to paraphrase the words of Dr Julia Kubisa. She spoke eloquently and passionately for over an hour on the subject of freedom of movement and how Brexit would impact negatively on that for all European people, not just the British.
At one point I suggest we change the subject to something more cheerful, but she pulls me up: she is deeply upset and sees negative impacts of these decisions all around her, already. She needs to talk about this, and says she is far from alone in feeling that our decision to leave the EU is slap in the face to our neighbours.


“It was just one thing, but it’s significant, and it’s so sad. This year all the Erasmus coordinators recelived a formal *urgent* email from the International Relations Office containing European Commission details on what will happen to Erasmus scholarships.

But we don’t know what to tell the students - we have no information, nobody knows for sure, we can’t tell the students anything. It’s an additional slap in the face.
I’m not even talking about the wider context - the scientific collaborations between universities - this is just Erasmus.

It’s stressful, it’s ruining plans, for all of us - on the top of brexit being annoying in itself. It’s insulting - we are expected, as professionals and adults, to know what the plan is. We are accountable and evaluated on the basis of this, and all of a sudden, we have one country whose future is not known, and WE have to adjust our plans to this uncertainty because of stupid decisions.

I remember the time before the European Union. The first time I visited the UK was in 1997 and I had an invitation from a teacher who had lodged with us (in Poland) to stay at her parents’ house.
I travelled by bus - 27 hours to Calais - and I remember the feeling of anxiety when I got closer to the ferry - will they let me in or not, will the invitation letter be enough? I spent a couple of hours on the bus, thinking about what I’d do if it wasn’t. Everyone on the bus was anxious, we were all Polish, all had letters of introduction. There was one guy whose letter, or face or whatever, they didn’t like, and they turned him away. No explanation. 

Most of us from the East have a memory of the power of border guards back in the old days. Will it be like this again - visiting the UK? Will I have to show a stranger part of my private life in order to visit my friends in another country?

If those Brexit voters had to show a part of their private lives to visit, say, Majorca, would they be fine with that? I don’t think it even occurs to them, as they have no experience of being in this inferior situation.

“We always lived in the shadow of the old democracies, we looked up to the UK, with its centuries of mature democracy. Then came the referendum, basically a game of ‘chicken’ between two right-wing parties. So they took the people and made them vote on things they didn’t understand. Just what is going on?”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of movement 23 - Warsaw

Richard is British. English.
He grew up in Oxford, and worked for a company in the city after returning from university.
Given the choice between losing his job or being re-located to Warsaw, where, he chose the latter, and he has lived here for about a year.

Richard is a Conservative voter. He reads The Telegraph, and voted to leave - but says he might now reconsider.  He feels there are lots of challenges around the EU in terms of democracy and accountability.
When it comes to freedom of movement, he says he doesn’t know what it means. Will he have to show his passport to get into Czech when he goes on a family holiday to Prague in May? Will Brits will now have to get visas to visit the rest of the EU? Will he need a work permit to stay here? 

Worst case scenario for Richard, he will have to go back. If that happens he says he’ll be lost. To have his livelihood taken from him would be devastating. If that happened he’d look to the US; after Brexit, the UK and US will have a stronger relationship, which he thinks could be successful. 

The UK is, he feels, much closer to the US than to Europe. Even though Britain has always been part of Europe, it is separated from Europe by the English Channel, and different. Geographically and historically, we may be European, but our TV and media give us more cues from the US. Everyone in Europe looks at Britain as an awkward neighbour, although he concedes that we may have done this to ourselves by actually being an awkward neighbour.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 23 - Lithuania

I meet Inga by the cathedral in Vilnius.
She is in charge of the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in Lithuania. 

Inga comes and goes from Lithuania as often as she likes - a priviledge not lost on someeone who grew up in a post-soviet state. She worked in the UK while she was a student - to improve her English - and still does (as you’d expect, D of E staff need to visit the UK at least every now and again).

She hasn’t found it difficult to come and go from the UK yet, but assumes it would be more complicated once the UK leaves the EU, although she admits she doesn’t know, as it’s hard to follow as cloesly as one might like. This may well lead to her travelling to the UK less often.
Inga also fears that things will become more difficult for Lithuanians living in the UK, and the uncertainty around residence and movement in and out of the UK is currently something that worries a lot of Lithuanians in the UK or at home with family in the UK.
This includes her sister, who is an NHS doctor working in London. She has contingency plans for various outcomes, which include leaving the UK for a destination where she can be more certain of her future. 

I’ll leave the last word on this to Inga: “Recently I had a discussion with my colleague who is an English language teacher and professional translator. I asked her which additional language, in her opinion, I should learn now? (I already know English and a little Russian).
She advised me to choose a country and a culture which I like and to learn their language as a way to understand that culture more deeply.
At that moment I realised that, from very beginning, I liked English because I am interested in all the nations of the United Kingdom. This won’t change if UK leaves the EU, but it may be harder to explore the country and it culture if I am treated as - potentially - an outsider, rather than a friendly neighbour.”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of movement 22 - Tallinn

“Free movement for me has been a boon, mainly because of where I live, in Estonia. Contrast the fact that I can travel to Finland, in one direction and Latvia in the other, with as much ease as you would travelling between counties in Britain, with the situation with our neighbour to the east – Russia – where travelling requires filling out forms, getting (and paying for) a visa, long queues and checks at the border etc. I can't imagine another place where you'd quite get that difference.

I was here when the Schengen kicked in; before that there were checks going to both those places and beyond, not a lot, but you still had to stop. One of the oddest case studies of this was Valga/Valka, a town which straddles the Estonian-Latvian border. In the old days, you could find yourself crossing the border down a side-street, which would have involved checks, but not any more. Sometimes there would be language issues in other places too, for instance crossing the border between Poland and Lithuania. 

Much more significantly than just my own free movement, everything seems to have moved along with that too, in terms of communications, transport infrastructure, the economy as a whole. 

Naturally it's important not to be naïve – not everyone can take advantage of the Schengen Zone in the same way, and people from outside the zone can, and do, often experience real problems with movement and residency rights. But overall it's definitely been a net gain''.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 21 - Helsinki

Mika and his partner Anne are both Finns.
Mika has family in Europe and the US - his cousins in the UK and Portugal are friends of mine, and his uncle lives in the US.
Anne studied in Italy.
Finns like to travel. Traditionally,and stereotypically,  this travel was to Estonia to buy beer. It’s their equivalent of the Calais Booze Cruise. However, now Estonia is relatively expensive, the alco cash and carry outlets just over the Latvian border have picked up most of that trade. But I digress. Mika and Anne love scuba diving and, whilst in their case this isn’t a European activity - they have just come back from south-east Asia, for example - they would be free to come and go to anwhere with clear warm waters in the EU.
For family, for work and for study, Mika and Anne value their right to move freely across Europe and the opportunities it has afforded them.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 20 - Stockholm

Mona Slottensjo and Paul Vogt.


Mona was born and raised in Sweden, where they now live. Paul was born in Hamburg, Germany, to a German father and English mother.

Paul Says “My mother being from England, migrated to Germany with my German father. We all grew up in Germany but frequently travelled back to the UK. My sister then later moved to England with her German husband. They both work and live there now with their two children, although they are both also German. I moved myself to the UK, for work and had no issues finding a job. Later in life I moved to the UK with Mona who did not have an English passport but still had no issues finding work etc. So I’d say is been a very positive experience.”
Paul also has family in Italy - his British aunt married an Italian and lives there now, with his uncle and cousins.

Mona is a quarter Danish, her Danish grandfather having emigrated to Sweden where he married her grandmother. “It was a positive experience for him, and for us growing up as we frequently travelled down to Denmark. No-one else in my family has ever lived abroad so when I moved to the UK, the first time, my family had a lot of questions about visas etc. I needed none.”

“Since then we lived in 6 different countries (not all in Europe) but never had an issue finding work or friends. Our travels have been a tremendous positive factor in our life and travelling without needing a visa made everything so much easier. We’ve always felt welcomed and involved in local life.”

Mona and Paul travel frequently. They have both worked in hospitality (Paul still does) and studied in both Switzerland and the UK, where they also lived and worked for five years, before returning to SE. They also travel to see family and friends around Europe.

For Paul, whose work depends to a large extent on the free movement of people, the right to free movement is fundamental; tourism relies as much on an international work force as it does on international clients. For them both, having worked and gained experience in the industry, they would have much less to offer if they had travelled less. Working abroad is fundamental.

Thinking about the referendum decision specifically (we agreed that this wasn’t about Brexit, but it’s hard to ignore the lived experience of non-british people following the referendum decision) the pair decided to return to Sweden after the referendum as they very much felt that they were beginning to feel excluded, to be outsiders, which they had never felt before. 

Mona says: “The general non-welcomed feeling we experienced amongst the “leavers”, although we studied and worked within the country, despite giving back of our invested academic time, and helping to support British businesses.”

“Also the “Oh, but not you, of course YOU are welcome to stay” comments from the many leavers we spoke to. We both stand united with all immigrants, regardless of race, colour or educational background. You can’t pick and choose which ones you want.”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 19 - Copenhagen

Marjahan Begum and Jeremy Moon, and their daughter Lilly.

Marjahan Begum was born in Bangladesh. Her husband, Jeremy Moon, was born in the UK, but has Australian citizenship. They live in Copenhagen, Denmark, with their 8 year-old daughter, Lilly.

“We both frequently travel to UK, and elsewhere, for work and family matters, so freedom of movement is very important. Having to organise visas, travel documents etc for a family of three (with different passports and nationalities) would mean lots of extra stress and effort, and possibly delays as well, and it is already complicated enough.”

“Both our work involves travelling, so freedom of movement is really important. Also,  my long term prospect of employment would possibly be harmed, as I wouldn’t be able to apply any where in Europe if we lost freedom of movement rights.”

“Its always positive meeting new people when setting up home. It also has negative as you don’t have roots in one place - home is everywhere and home is nowhere.”

“My main reflection is that people in the UK will loose opportunities to travel and work abroad. Especially for young people who should be able to go anywhere they like and explore opportunities for work and study. The greatest thing in our life happened because we are beings who love exploring, so taking this right away seem quite fundamentally to be going backwards. On top of that, it is of our own doing!”

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 18 - Tignes.

Simon and Alex.

Simon is British. Alex is American, though she now has dual US/UK nationality (“I aced the citizenship test”, she tells me “I memorised the whole book!”).

They met while Simon was on an exchange programme at her university in the US, and decided to marry so they could at least be together. “It was a risk, and we both knew it. We took the decision knowing that, and decided that if it didn’t work out there would be no hard feelings” Simon tells me over breakfast. Well, that was over 20 years ago, and they’re still together. Simon and Alex sold their software company four years ago and now divide their time between Tignes, France (they are extreme/off-piste skiers, ski mountaineers, ski tourers,  alpine, rock and ice climbers. In short, they love the mountains, and Tignes is at 2100 meters, giving both fantastic scenery and topography and a very long and reliable ski season) and their home in Leicester, and wherever else they feel like travelling to in their VW camper. It’s an enviable ‘retirement’, and only made possible by their freedom of movement.

Also, and I feel I absolutely have to point this out, Alex makes awesome curries. 

Simon is in love with powder skiing. I’ve never met anyone so concerned with or knowledgable about snow types and states, but I guess you have to be if you spend your life off-piste, launching yourself down couloirs, abseiling with skis. Anyway, as a result of all this knowledge I let Simon decide where they would like to be photographed, and we get to a spot with clean sightlines of the sunlit Dôme de la Saché behind them and pure, untouched powder in the foreground. Nothing seems more appropriate. Simon is giving himself a week or two away now to go ski mountaineering in La Grave with their friend Ben.

Yes, I am envious. But in a nice way. 

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 17 - Padua.

Enrico Frank

My friend Nick put me in touch with Enrico, who used to share a house in Oxford with Nick’s friends when Enrico worked there as a hydrologist, a job in which he also captained the “Foreigners’” cricket team (“We lost every match we played!”) before returning to Italy. He continues to travel around the continent for work, which is made much less difficult by the EU’s rules on free movement.

Enrico is a Padua local, and graduated from university here as well, so he suggested meeting in the old building that dates from the founding of the university in 1222. I check out the main quadrangle of the building to scope out potential angles and, once we return there for the shoot he informs me that this was the very place in which he graduated (and in which his friends performed the ritual humiliations bestowed upon the newly graduated Italians). I’m immediately glad I’ve scoped out an angle in exactly the right building.

He and his youngest daughter Carla (who is feeling ill but doesn’t want to miss out on a real photoshoot) pose for me patiently for as long as we feel is polite - the university’s PR staff arrive to ask if we have permission, which we don’t, and Enrico does the talking.

Enrico tells me that Copernicus studied here, that Galileo was a professor at the university, and that the first post mortem human dissections were carried out here (the first advances in medicine in about 1700 years, since ancient Greece, in fact). Without free movement, it’s possible that none of the ideas developed here would have spread to the rest of Europe, and there would have been not quite as much enlightenment. Freedom of movement and exchange of ideas is crucial to the advancement of science, the spread of knowledge and understanding.

Later, I meet Enrico again and he takes me to his home to meet his family. His wife has cooked squid and polenta, which is delicious, and we drink wine, discuss rugby, read Shakespeare in a mannered, loud and actorly voice for the amusement of his eldest daughter Emma (who is in a drama club), and grumble about that thing beginning with B…

Grazie mille, Famiglia Frank.
A presto.

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 16 - Ljubljana.

Gasper Tavcar.

“Why would you do that? Why would you make life harder for yourselves? Why would you decide you need [more documents] just to travel to the next country?”
”This thing is built on friendship, trust, sharing, being at peace - who wants to get rid of that?”

I had no good answers for this, not least because I don’t think there are any good answers, but also because my Slovenian (three words, none of which are “Anger”, “Madness” or “Deception”) wouldn’t cover it. It was also really cold, so hanging about and idly chatting after the photoshoot seemed like a bad idea.

I meet Gasper through a friend of a friend (a British guy called Simon, who I’m visiting in Tignes in a few days).
They are both alpine climbers and met while climbing in the Italian Dolomites.

Gasper is a biology student in Ljubljana. As a student and a climber he doesn’t have the money to travel widely, but has the opportunity to do so when funds and studies allow through his right of free movement. But, right now, and with great climbing in Slovenia, he’s not in any rush.

From Gasper I learn that his university is a world-leading centre in the study of crabs, which does seem unlikely, and that Slovenia has a lot of dinosaur remains (presumably thanks to it being made entirely out of limestone).

Nick Rawle
Freedom of Movement 15 - Ljubljana.

Luke Dunne.
Luke is a dancer from Market Harborough, England. It’s a prosperous and pleasant but fairly conservative place, and if you want to be a dancer you really need to go somewhere else.
After training in London, Luke moved to Ljubljana, where he stayed. His partner Katja is expecting their child, so I guess he’s staying.

I wanted to photograph Luke in a location that either meant something to him or was strongly representative of his home: it’s what I try to do with everyone I photograph. As it happened, Luke invited me to his and Katja’s flat in a socialist Yugoslav-era block. It’s a small flat with very pleasant rooms, but the space that worked best was the hallway outside - a generous utilitarian area that modern blocks would not have. Home. History. The architecture of place. Perfect. Also, as Luke is six foot one (and a half) it made sense to use the good ceiling height for lighting.

Nick Rawle