The UK en EU argue over who is to blame for expensive visas for musicians

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

The UK and EU failed to ensure visa-free travels for artists, resulting in artists on both sides of the pond having to pay for expensive visa's. Now both parties arguing about who is responsible, with both sides blaming each other. In the meantime nothing is really getting done about the problem.

Before Brexit, it was relatively easy for artists from the UK to tour in the EU. They could simply drive across the pond with their gear and do a few shows, the same was true the other way around. Post-Brexit, European artists have to pay £244 for a visa and have £1000 in savings if they want to enter the UK. For UK artists wanting to tour in the EU rules differ from country to country, some come with small restrictions on time of stay and some countries demand artists to get pricey work visas.

At first the UK government blamed the lack of visa-free travels for musicians on Brussels. In return the EU claimed it was the British that rejected their proposal. They supposedly offered the UK the same deal they offer all third party countries. Artists wouldn't be required to get a visa, as long as they don't stay longer than 90 days. The British reportedly rejected this deal, because it would mean they had to offer the same freedoms to European artists entering the UK. However, a spokesperson for the UK government denied the claim, stating that:

“This story is incorrect and misleading speculation from anonymous EU sources. The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU.”

Musicians and prominent figures in the music industry are asking for details about what exactly was offered and why the government decided to reject the first deal. A petition was launched last year, calling on the British government to negotiate a free cultural work permit that would allow visa-free travel through all of the 27 EU states. The petition now has over 200.000 signatures, which means it has to be considered for debate by parliament.

The UK and EU might have another debate in the future about what to do with touring musicians and work out a deal. The standard visa-free travel deal the EU has with many other countries would be the most logical decision. It's a fair deal and doesn't require writing any new pieces of legislation. But this would also mean the UK has to give up their own restrictions on European musicians entering the country. Because one of the main reasons for the British to go forward with Brexit was a tighter control over its borders and less people freely entering the country, the likelihood of this happening is low.


Source: NME