LONDON – British artists can once again tour large parts of Europe without the need for visas or work permits, after the British government struck deals with 19 EU member states, including major live music markets, Germany and France.
As part of deals, the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) said on Wednesday August 4 that it had agreed that UK musicians and performers did not need visas and permits of work for “short-term tours”. DCMS did not specify the length of the “short term”, presumably leaving it to the host countries to decide.
But the agreements will ease restrictions preventing the free movement of British musicians across European borders which have been in place since the UK officially left the European Union on January 31, 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying shutdown of the live music industry have masked many of the problems Brexit created for the live music industry. And fears remain about additional customs checks and artists and crews requiring visas and work permits to resume European tours.
According to a survey conducted by the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians in April and May, 77% of UK musicians expected their earnings in Europe to decline when touring resumes due to red tape and costs additional tours linked to Brexit.
In January, more than a hundred players, including Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Radiohead, signed an open letter to the UK government saying it had “shamefully failed” them with the EU trade deal that was finalized on December 24 by not guaranteeing visa exemption. tour for British musicians in Europe.
An online petition calling for a visa-free work permit across Europe for UK artists garnered more than 280,000 signatures, including those of Dua Lipa, Louis Tomlinson and Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro, and led to a debate in Parliament in February.
Prior to today’s announcement, France had already said it would not need any permits or visas from UK laws, provided visitors do not stay longer than 90 days.
Along with Germany and France, the countries which have confirmed the free movement of British musicians across borders are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.
DCMS said it was “actively engaged” with the eight other EU member states that currently do not allow visas and free tours – Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria , Romania, Malta and Cyprus – and called on them to reciprocate The UK’s own regulations, which allow touring artists and support staff to visit for up to three months without a visa.
“We recognize that challenges remain around touring and we continue to work closely with the industry,” DCMS said in a statement.
The ministry has not yet clarified what impact the agreements will have on the transport of equipment and goods across EU borders, and whether the carnets – essentially passports for the goods, costing 360 euros ($ 490) per year – will still be needed.
Post-Brexit ‘cabotage’ rules that require carriers to return to their home base in the EU or UK after making three stops in either market are also unresolved . The regulations could have a major financial impact on larger tours that use multiple trucks – not just for UK performers, but for all European treks that start in the UK.
“The fact remains that the UK music industry is in a much less advantageous position now than it was before January,” said a spokesperson for the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, which was launched in June in response to touring issues. to Brexit.
The government’s statement that it has secured “visa-free” tours with 19 EU countries “is nothing more than what we already know,” the spokesperson said, and does not provide answers concerning tours in almost a third of EU countries.
LetTheMusicMove asks for a country-by-country breakdown of the exact requirements for artists and touring teams in the 27 EU Member States.
Jamie Njoku Goodwin, chief executive of umbrella organization UK Music, tweeted that the government’s progress report was “encouraging” but said it was essential that more work be done to “remove the practical obstacles that currently plague music companies. musicians who have to work across the EU “.