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UK MPs announce inquiry into EU touring obstacles

The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music (APPG) has announced a cross-party inquiry into the barriers facing musicians touring the EU

The inquiry will focus on visas and work permits, carnets and CITES (instrument manufacturing materials), cabotage (transport issues), effect on the UK music industry, effect on emerging artists, and potential solutions.

MPs are keen to hear from those impacted ahead of the first evidence session later this month.

“This is a hugely welcome move by MPs from across the political divide who are as keen as we are to overcome the barriers facing musicians and crew touring the EU,” says UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin.

“The extra costs and red tape mean some artists are losing work and some tours, particularly those by emerging musicians, are not viable at the moment.

“We need urgent government action to break down the barriers facing musicians and crew including a transitional support package of financial aid and further steps to encourage exports.”

As part of its investigation, the group is calling for evidence on the impact the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) – the UK/EU trade deal signed following the UK’s departure from the EU – has had on UK music workers and companies looking to tour and work short-term in EU member states.

Musicians and crew are facing an enormous and grave problem when it comes to touring the EU that is not going to go away

UK musicians and performers can presently enjoy visa-free short-term touring in 20 of the bloc’s 27 nations, following conversations between Britain and individual European Union countries.

The governments of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden have all confirmed that British artists will not need a visa or work permit when entering those countries to undertake “short-term” tours.

Still absent from the list, however, are major touring markets such as Spain and Portugal, as well as Greece, Croatia, Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

The APPG has written to prime minister Boris Johnson to demand “urgent action” over the current deadlock, and is calling for a meeting to discuss ways of overcoming obstacles around visas and transport red tape. 

“Musicians and crew are facing an enormous and grave problem when it comes to touring the EU that is not going to go away,” says APPG chair, Conservative MP David Warburton. “Our cross-party group has written to the prime minister to ask him to take urgent action to clear these visa and travel barriers that threaten the success of the UK music industry, particularly emerging artists.

“We need the government to ramp up negotiations with nations like Spain where costly visas are still in place and to look for swift solutions to both the visa and transport issues facing musicians and crew.”

The APPG has voiced its support for artist-led music industry campaign #LetTheMusicMove, which launched in June and is pushing for a reduction in the costs and red tape which will face UK musicians and businesses when touring mainland Europe.

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