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Visa-Free EU Touring Debate Reaches No Conclusion
Christian Eede , February 10th, 2021 18:40

"Performers from the UK are still very much welcome to perform in the EU, and vice versa," culture minister Caroline Dinenage insisted in Parliament

A Parliamentary debate on a petition calling for visa-free touring for UK artists and crew post-Brexit, and vice versa for those visiting the UK, reached no real conclusion this week with the Government continuing to double down on its belief that the EU was at fault for the lack of an agreement.

The Brexit trade deal agreed in December failed to secure visa-free travel for UK artists and their crew wishing to tour EU countries, something which the Government had continually promised would be in its plans. This means that huge costs will likely be incurred when planning future live music tours across EU countries, something which a number of UK music industry figures last month warned could prevent new and developing artists from being able to do so.

A row has erupted in recent weeks around who was responsible for the lack of an agreement with EU sources and UK Government ministers each signalling that an offer had been made to the other on the matter to no avail. After over 280,000 people signed a petition calling for a deal to be done last month, the matter was debated earlier this week in Parliament.

Cross-party politicians put forward their views on the matter, with many requesting clarity on the current rules and expressing concern about what the lack of an agreement could mean for artists and the UK's £5.7 billion music industry.

Responding to MPs' statement, culture minister Caroline Dinenage did not suggest that negotiating visa-free touring was an option and repeated that "the UK pushed for ambitious arrangements," which were rejected by the EU with "no counteroffer."

Dinenage called the situation "deeply regrettable" and insisted that "our door remains open [with] scope to return to this issue should the EU change its mind."

The minister pointed out that UK artists are allowed to visit France without a visa for 90 days, though did not acknowledge that the differing rules across various EU countries would create a headache for artists, crew and promoters when planning future shows and tours. Dinenage also made no signal that the Government might consider proposals for a visa-free musicians' passport.

"Performers from the UK are still very much welcome to perform in the EU, and vice versa," Dinenage said. "The UK remains open for musicians to tour here."

Dinenage also claimed that "the UK's offer to touring professionals is more generous than that of other EU member states," adding that "it is absolutely within the gift of each EU member state to improve their own arrangements if they want to encourage a more vibrant and welcoming environment in their own country."

The Musicians' Union last month published a guide to entry requirements, including work permits, for the EU's 26 nation states.