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UK Music calls for EU ‘touring passport’

The umbrella association's CEO, Michael Dugher, says a "single EU-wide live music 'touring passport'" would ensure visa-free travel for musicians post-Brexit

By IQ on 18 Sep 2017

Michael Dugher, UK Music

image © UK Music

The chief executive of UK Music, Michael Dugher, has called for the introduction of an EU-wide live music ‘passport’ for British artists to ensure freedom of movement after the UK exits the union.

In an article for HuffPost on Friday, Dugher (pictured) urged the British government to end the “uncertainty and lack of clarity” facing the UK music business, calling for ministers to agree a deal for a transition period by 31 December to minimise disruption to the industry and avoid a “cliff-edge” Brexit in 2019.

“The Mercury Awards has once again showcased the incredible talent and diversity that is British music at its best,” he said. “The voracious appetite for British music around the world has never been greater and has pushed our exports up 11% to a new high of £365 million last year, according to recent figures from the BPI. […]

“It’s true that leaving the EU may open the door to new trade deals and could unlock barriers in established markets like the US. But the current uncertainty and lack of clarity about the government’s Brexit plans threatens our success. It means some investment opportunities are on hold and long-term planning is seriously hampered.

“That’s why it was welcome that the Conservative government and the Labour opposition are now talking of a post-Brexit transition period that will entail interim arrangements to help business adjust to what is likely to be a seismic set of changes. The government must now prioritise achieving an agreement on a transitionary period by the end of this year to provide a degree of certainty.

“The clock is well and truly ticking on the countdown to Brexit Day on 29 March 2019”

To give that much-needed clarity, the government must also commit to continued membership of the [European] Single Market as part of any transitionary period. This would avoid a cliff-edge Brexit and allow individuals and businesses to stagger any changes in operations.”

He also wrote that the UK should seek a “single EU-wide live music ‘touring passport’ to avoid new restrictions, costs and bureaucracy on artists and musicians”.

Industry figures and associations, both in the UK and internationally, quizzed by IQ in the run-up to last June’s referendum overwhelmingly expressed a wish to remain in the union – with uncertainty over future visa-free travel for artists a common concern – but most were sanguine on British music’s prospects following the 52–48 vote to leave.

“As EU negotiator Michel Barnier said, the clock is well and truly ticking on the countdown to Brexit Day on 29 March 2019,” concluded Dugher. “Brexit represents a huge potential threat to the British music industry. We can’t afford to mess this up.”

Dugher warned of the threats facing the UK music industry – including Brexit, a lack of funding for small venues and a fall in spending by music tourists – in a column for IQ 73.


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