UK musicians left in the lurch as just one EU country signs the post-Brexit deal on touring in Europe
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promises to ‘fix’ the issue surrounding British musicians being able to tour work-permit free in Europe, it has been revealed that only one EU state actually agreed to a deal.
Almost nine months ago, Boris made the pledge that this problem would be resolved, but it turns out that of the 27 member states, Spain is the only one who signed an agreement.
A letter has reportedly been sent to the Foreign Secretary from the Incorporated Society of Musicians, on behalf of its 11,000 members. They are urging the new Brexit minister, Liz Truss, to now go down the same route as her predecessor, Lord Frost, who took what they describe as a ‘hardline approach’.
“All the problems first identified as facing the creative sector due to the TCA, in the Brexit trade deal, still remain”, says the letter. Deborah Annetts, its chief executive, warns, “The sector is now facing mountains of red tape, which is both costly and time-consuming”.
She continued, “The proposed solutions such as bilateral agreements with EU states have not materialised, apart from with Spain, and there are serious issues with cabotage, carnets, and designated ports”.
Adding, “All these issues are adversely impacting the UK music industry, and the broader creative industries, which is worth £116bn per annum, the same as finance or construction”.
Opera singer Dame Sarah Connolly wrote an article for the Independent, in which she described the situation now facing British musicians wanting to tour in Europe. She called it “a seeping, pallid, undercooked, slippery slope”.
“2022 is a year that many in the creative industries will look ahead to with trepidation”, continued Dame Sarah, adding, “Omicron is on the rise, and the problems with the Brexit deal from 12 months ago are still problems today. My message to the government for the new year is, ‘listen to us'”.
As revealed previously by the Independent, an offer proposed by the EU to allow visa-free touring was rejected by the British Government at the time. Rejecting this trade deal was a blatant turnaround on Mr Johnson’s promise to the music industry.
The Prime Minister had told MPs last March, “We must fix it”, when referring to the awful problems musicians would face in obtaining the relevant paperwork to allow them to travel and perform in EU countries.
Lord Frost was in charge of the negotiations at the time, who has since resigned his position in the cabinet. It did appear to many at the time that he had seemingly washed his hands of the issue, and not attempted to resolve it.
A claim was made at the time that 21 of the 27 EU states had agreed to allow work-permit free access to their countries. This was quickly attacked by the music industry, including a severe message from Sir Elton John, pointing out that restrictions still existed in these member states.
Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, credited herself with brokering the deal with Spain. Industry insiders have since claimed that was the work of organisations like the Association of British Orchestras, negotiating with their counterparts in Spain, who agreed the deal for musicians to be allowed to work for 90 days, out of every 180, as reported by independent.co.uk.
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