‘Angry and alarmed’: Industry responds to reports UK rejected EU visa-free touring proposal

The UK music industry has responded angrily to reports that government rejected a proposal by the EU that would allow touring musicians to tour in the EU without a visa for up to 90 days.

The report in The Independent claimed that the “standard” proposal to exempt performers from work permits, and therefore significant costs and time consuming bureaucracy for a 90 day period, was rejected down by the UK government, as it was not willing to offer the same rights to acts from the EU wanting to tour the UK. However, the government responded with suggestions that the EU was responsible for the failure to reach an agreement, countering that the UK requested a 30-day exemption, which the EU would not countenance. The 30-day rule is the standard permit-free period allowed by the government’s immigration policy.

Figures from across the music industry, from artists and trade bodies, through to politicians, were quick to condemn the UK’s failure to reach an agreement, with many taking to Twitter to voice their disappointment. 

In a House of Lords debate on, Cabinet Officer minister Lord True said the following on the government’s negotiation with the EU: “The UK proposed measures that would have allowed musicians to travel and perform in the UK and the EU more easily, without needing work permits. Specifically, we proposed including the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff, in the list of permitted activities for short-term visitors.

“In practice, this would have delivered an outcome closer to the UK’s approach to incoming musicians, artists and entertainers, but these proposals were, sadly, rejected by the EU.”