It has been reported that the UK rejected a visa-free deal for touring musicians. According to The Independent, a ‘standard’ proposal was made, which entailed that musicians would not require a visa to tour in the EU for 90 days. An EU source told the newspaper that in their agreements with third parties, the EU usually includes a provision for musicians to not require a work visa. The UK allegedly rejected this proposal. The agreed post-Brexit trade deal provides for some EU workers to travel visa-free for business purposes. However, musicians were not included in this.
The UK and EU are in disagreement about which party rejected the visa-free tour travel proposal. The UK government has denied the allegations, claiming that it was the EU that rejected this proposal.
Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital & Culture, tweeted:
This story is incorrect – misleading speculation from anonymous EU sources. The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU. https://t.co/kISFy0l0Fr— Caroline Dinenage (@cj_dinenage) January 10, 2021
What does this mean for touring musicians?
The lack of visa-free tour travel for musicians between the UK and EU adds more costs and bureaucracy for those that wish to tour between these regions. Individuals and organisations have expressed their outrage about this news on social media.
Music producer and instrumentalist Geoff Barrow tweeted #BorisKilledMusic; a very clear expression of his views on the matter. This was also the sentiment of several people online.
What happens now?
The Incorporated Society of Musicians, the UK’s professional body for musicians, has called for an urgent statement in the House of Commons addressing this issue. They have stated that they are appalled by these reports and if they are in fact true, are a ‘serious breach of trust’.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has expressed that music is one of the UK’s best exports and a visa-free deal would have ‘massively’ benefited the UK more than the EU. He also shared a petition online that urges the government to negotiate a free cultural work permit.
As both the UK and EU have denied the allegations that they were the ones that rejected the visa-free travel proposal, it appears that neither party wanted this to happen. Hopefully, this means that the matter can be resolved so musicians do not require a visa to tour across the UK and EU.
Words by: Des Okongwu (Legal & Business Affairs Correspondent)