Did The Govt Reject EU Visa-Free Deal For Musicians?

An offer made to the UK of visa-free tours by musicians to countries within the EU has reportedly been rejected by the government, with a source close to the negotiations claiming that work visas aren’t usually required for musicians in agreements with third countries and the EU tried to include it but the UK declined.

According to the Independent, the apparent decision has led to bitter recriminations following government reassurances that touring performers, their support teams and equipment would be protected by a Brexit deal.

Charlatans singer Tim Burgess and folk artist Laura Marling, among other stars, have signed a petition demanding visa-free tours, which has the support of almost 230,000 people. A standard proposal would see performers able to travel visa-free for 90 days, but this was apparently turned down.

Calls have also now been issued for the government to reveal exactly what happened during the negotiations, as ministers are insisting that the EU was responsible for the new red tape. 

It has been argued that the government made a push for a “more ambitious agreement, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU”.

As of January, UK musicians must now apply for visas as all non-EU artists have to in order to visit for more than 30 days, as well as providing a sponsorship certificate from events organisers and providing proof of savings.

Chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians Deborah Annetts described the new development as horrifying, saying: “The government must come clean about what steps it took to protect the performing arts in the negotiations.

“The music sector feels deeply let down by the government and we want to get to the bottom of what happened. All the way through 2020, we were given assurances that the government understood how important frictionless travel is for the performing arts.”

Chief executive of UK Music Jamie Nioku-Goodwin has also now issued a call for clarity over the claims that the EU deal was rejected by the government, saying that the new regulations will put future tours at risk and make it harder for tours abroad to take place.

“No one wins from imposing barriers to touring musicians and their crews, and this is impacting both British and European artists – so the current situation is a lose-lose for both the UK and the EU.

“Who is at fault is irrelevant, and a blame game helps no one. The important thing is that both sides appear to genuinely want this issue sorted, so it is imperative that they get around a table and urgently agree a solution,” he went on to say.

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