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House Of Lords urges government to resolve EU touring issues “as a matter of urgency”

By | Published on Thursday 25 March 2021


The super exciting sounding House Of Lords EU Services Sub-Committee has published a report urging the UK government to negotiate an agreement on visa-free touring for performers across Europe before COVID restrictions are lifted.

The recommendation comes alongside a wider call for improvements to be made regarding ‘services trade’ between the UK and EU. The committee says that “too much is at stake” if we don’t address various issues caused by Brexit and gaps in the post-Brexit UK-EU trade agreement.

Titled ‘Beyond Brexit: Trade In Services’, the report examines the UK’s services industries and the provisions provided for them in the trade deal that was agreed at the end of last year. It identifies music as a key sector for the British economy, and one severely let down by the deal as it stands.

It notes that being able to move around Europe with as few barriers as possible is vital to touring musicians of all types and levels. If additional red tape and costs put a stop to artists’ ability to tour in the EU, it could have wider implications beyond simply limiting their earning potential. It could also have a knock-on effect for the UK music industry’s standing globally.

“For many professionals, mobility within Europe can also act as a stepping stone for building a wider international reputation and raising their international profile”, it says. “For example, to secure a visa to perform in America, musicians must provide evidence of an international reputation. Performances within Europe open up opportunities further afield”.

“The mobility provisions in the [trade deal] make it difficult for those working in the UK creative industries to tour in the EU”, it says. “The COVID-19 pandemic means these problems are hidden for now, but these mobility restrictions put the sector’s recovery at risk. We urge the government to negotiate, as a matter of urgency, a bilateral and reciprocal agreement to make mobility arrangements for touring performers, creative teams and crews”.

“The government should also seek to negotiate an agreement to resolve the barriers to the movement of goods used in cultural and sporting events that are imported on a temporary basis. These arrangements will be mutually beneficial to creative industries in both the UK and EU”, it concludes.

In a statement, the committee’s Chair, Rita Donaghy, says: The EU-UK trade agreement has secured important trade liberalisation in some areas of trade in services. However, there are some significant gaps … The mobility provisions in the [agreement] will also make it very difficult for people working in the creative industries to tour in the EU. The government must resolve this issue with the EU before international travel resumes”.

“The services sector is at the heart of the UK economy, so it is essential that the government and EU makes improvements to smooth UK-EU services trade”, she goes on. “Too much is at stake if we don’t”.

The government, of course, has previously agreed that this is a big issue, but has frequently put the onus on the EU to sort it out. Despite the recognition of the problems created for touring performers by Brexit and the trade deal, there is increasing concern from music industry groups that there is little actual action occurring within government to do anything about it.

Earlier this week, the UK’s Council Of Music Makers called on ministers to set up a fund to support musicians incurring extra touring costs as a result of new post-Brexit bureaucracy in the event that issues are not addressed before international touring can resume.

You can read the House Of Lords’ full report here.