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The Brexit deal: What we know so far

The live music industry has been left with many unanswered questions by the post-Brexit trade deal, which was agreed upon by the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve (24 December).

The deal, which was signed into law yesterday, takes effect at 11 pm GMT today (31 December) – four-and-a-half years after the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum and almost a year after the UK officially left the EU.

While much of the impact on touring musicians and productions is still unclear, IQ spoke with specialists across concert hauliers, freight and visas, to identify the current state of play for the live music business.

Concert Hauliers
According to Richard Burnett, CEO, Road Haulage Association, the biggest issue the new Free Trade Agreement presents to concert hauliers is restricted access to the market. This is due to reduced cabotage – a restriction of movements within a country.

Before Brexit, concert hauliers were not restricted in the number of times they could unload and load productions on a European tour. From tomorrow, trucks over 3.5 tonnes are limited to just three internal movements.

“So, a haulier could drop off a load in Paris, pick up a load in Paris, and then take it to Leon. And then the haulier would have to come home,” Burnett explains. The cabotage rules are also reciprocal; European trucks touring the UK would have equally limited movements.

From tomorrow, trucks over 3.5 tonnes are limited to just three internal movements

An estimated 85% of the European concert trucking business is based from the UK. Burnett says that currently, the only way those hauliers can continue to provide the same service they have for decades is by setting up a European operation which “costs a lot of money… hauliers have already had the worst year in their history due to Covid and are struggling enormously as it is.”

Seeking an exemption from the current rules, the Road Haulage Association and umbrella trade group LIVE is lobbying the UK Government to intervene and prevent large-scale European touring out of the UK from effectively being unable to resume in 2021.

ATA carnets
The carnet system will once again apply within Europe, as it did prior to the UK’s membership of the EU, and in line with other non-EU international tours.

It will now be necessary for tours to obtain ATA Carnets for all equipment travelling outside of the UK on a temporary basis. And while the carnet process is well established, its reintroduction is expected to add friction and cost to European touring, with its impact felt more intensely by grassroots and emerging artists.

“Merchandise shipments and any other consumable items cannot be shipped on a carnet so they will probably have to enter the EU on a permanent basis and, whilst they should be duty-free, a local company in the European destination country will have to take responsibility for the VAT due on the import,” says John Corr at Sound Moves.

While the carnet process is well established, its reintroduction is expected to add friction and cost to European touring

In terms of logistics, Corr points out that the new deal will require all trucks of 7.5 tonnes and above to have submitted customs clearance details and obtained a Kent Access Permit to be allowed to enter the county, to then make use of one of the document processing facilities and be allowed to board and cross.

His colleague, Martin Corr, stresses the inevitable delays tours will suffer while everyone gets used to the new customs procedures and processes.

“In the long term, promoters, managers and productions managers will have to budget for extra costs in relation to raising and bonding carnets. At the same time, itineraries will need to be carefully scrutinised to allow for the extra time and potential delays whilst carnets and other documents – including those for the truck and the drivers – are presented, approved, and customs and immigration release obtained,” he says.

For outbound immigration (UK to EU), visa requirements for touring musicians and crew will, in the future, be up to each individual country and enquiries are underway regarding immigration regulations applicable to each individual member state for outbound mobility from the UK.

A recent blog post by immigration specialists Viva La Visa states that, “The hoped-for provision for a dedicated clear permit free route for UK performers and their crews to operate in the EU was not there”. Industry associations are subsequently pressing for urgent clarification.

For inbound immigration, from tomorrow EU musicians (and entourages) will be coming into the UK through any of the existing three routes that apply to non-visa nationals: Certificates of Sponsorship (Tier 5), Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) and Permit Free Festivals.

Various petitions have been launched in relation to musicians working in the EU post-Brexit including ‘Seek Europe-wide Visa-free work permit for Touring professionals and Artists‘ which will be debated in Parliament after surpassing 100,000 signatures, and the Musicians’ Union’s ‘Musicians’ Passport’ campaign.

IQ will be updating readers as further details of the new Brexit deal are clarified…


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EU: Festivals, concerts to be last to reopen

The European Commission has published a set of guidelines on how member states should start to emerge from lockdown, indicating that mass gatherings such as festivals and concerts may be the last kind of social activity to restart.

In the document, entitled ‘Joint European Roadmap towards lifting Covid-19 containment measures’, the commission suggests a “progressive” reinstatement of gatherings of people.

The sequencing proposed in the document, starting with the reopening of educational institutes, followed by retail activity, the return of restaurants, cafes and bars and then of mass gatherings, is in accordance with exit plans laid out by governments in Germany, Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium and Luxembourg, where large events will recommence after the reopening of some other parts of society.

The commission stresses the need for a gradual lifting of measures, saying that sufficient time should be left between each step, offering one month as an example period.

The document also outlines a “phased approach” for the opening of both internal and external borders, with restrictions on travel between areas with “comparably low reported circulation of the virus” easing first, leading to the eventual restoration of “the normal functioning of the Schengen area”.

“Successfully coordinating the lifting of containment measures at EU level will also positively impact the EU’s recovery”

“The gradual reopening of borders should give priority to cross-border and seasonal workers and should avoid any discrimination against EU mobile workers,” reads the report. “In the transition phase, the efforts to maintain an unobstructed flow of goods and to secure supply chains should be reinforced.”

Access of non-EU residents to the EU will be granted in a “second stage”, taking into account the spread of the virus.

The EU commission states its intention to ensure more coordination between its member states. Members of the live industry, including Dutch agency collective United Independent Music Agencies, have criticised the lack of collaboration at EU level.

“In order to streamline coordination efforts, the Commission will be ready to develop further guidance, when necessary or requested, in order to ensure a gradual transition from general confinement,” the report concludes. “The more such transition is coordinated at EU level, the more negative spill-overs between Member States will be avoided and the implementation of measures across different Member States will be mutually reinforcing.

“Successfully coordinating the lifting of containment measures at EU level will also positively impact the EU’s recovery.”

Photo: Thijs ter Haar/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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UK culture minister: free movement “essential” for artists

The UK minister for sport, media and creative industries, Nigel Adams, has stated that the UK government will endeavour to support continued freedom of movement for touring musicians after the country leaves the European Union on 31 January.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday (21 January), Adams stressed the importance of touring – “the lifeblood of the industry” – and of freedom of movement for “musicians, equipment and merchandise”.

“Visa rules for artists performing in the EU will not change until the implementation period ends in December 2020. It’s absolutely essential that free movement for artists is protected post-2020,” said Adams.

Michael Dugher, former CEO of umbrella body UK Music, previously described the prospect of losing free movement as “a death knell for touring”, with many other industry figures raising concerns over the additional costs, delays and red tape artists would face in a post-Brexit world.

“It’s absolutely essential that free movement for artists is protected post-2020”

The minster also stated the government was committed to supporting the “fantastic UK music industry at home and abroad”, adding that a “comprehensive music strategy” needed to be implemented to ensure the industry “continues to be the envy of the world”.

The Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, Conor McGinn, noted that the UK music industry “punches well above its weight economically”, citing the £5.2 billion it generates each year, as well as having a “profound effect on health and wellbeing”.

McGinn admitted that “challenges still exist” with regards to business rates for music venues – which were addressed both in the ruling Conservative Party manifesto and in the Queen’s speech – asking when relief would come in.

The debate was praised by Tom Kiehl, deputy CEO of UK Music, who says: “I would like to thank all the MPs from across the political spectrum who made such brilliant and heartfelt contributions about the importance of the UK music industry to our economy and society.

“We look forward to working with [Adams] on the new music strategy and a host of other areas to continue to grow our industry.”


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