United Kingdom government officials reportedly turned down the chance of coming to an agreement with European Union leaders which would have allowed musicians from the U.K. to easily enter E.U. countries while touring without the high costs and tedious bureaucratic process of required work visas.
U.K. officials had initially put blame on the E.U. for this major conundrum towards British musicians hoping to return to touring outside the country when the global concert industry possibly restarts later this year. A new report published by British news outlet The Independent over the weekend, however, now shines a light on a proposal that would have exempted U.K. musicians/performers from obtaining required work visas to enter European countries for trips under 90 days, which was turned down by Boris Johnson‘s government.
For reference, the U.K.’s post-Brexit trade deal with the E.U. reached just last month on Christmas Eve will allow workers in select industries to travel to the 27 European countries without a visa, but musicians and those involved in the arts sector were not included. Under the new Brexit deal, touring musicians must apply for visas in order to visit a European country for more than 30 days, along with providing proof of savings and a sponsorship certificate from an event organizer. The backlash within the music community led to the creation of a pro-arts petition which has since collected over 238,000 signatures–enough to be considered for debate in Parliament.
An E.U. source was quoted in The Independent‘s report saying, “It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians. We tried to include it, but the UK said no … The UK refused to agree because they said they were ending freedom of movement. It is untrue to say they asked for something more ambitious. There has to be reciprocity.”
Industry leaders in the U.K. live entertainment industry are calling for Her Majesty’s Government to provide full details of the negotiations along with more transparency of what was offered for British musicians in the Brexit trade deal talks.
A report published by NME on Sunday does offer a contrast in opinion to The Independent‘s story, as a U.K. government spokesperson has told the British entertainment media outlet, “This story is incorrect and misleading speculation from anonymous EU sources. The U.K. pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travelers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU.”
While the matter at hand is certainly worthy of further evaluation if British musicians are to return to touring at some point in 2021, it will likely be a while before that happens. England implemented its third national lockdown last week due to rising COVID-19 infections, which will remain in effect until February at the earliest.
[H/T The Independent]