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Post-Brexit EU touring for musicians plan proposed by UK Labour MP Harriet Harman

The 10-point plan has been backed by UK Music and the Musicians' Union

A Post-Brexit EU touring plan for musicians has been proposed by UK Labour MP Harriet Harman.

In January, the UK Government was urged to take immediate action after initial Brexit touring plans were rejected by the EU. It had been hoped the final UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve 2020 (just days before new regulations came into place on 1st January 2021), would include special consideration for touring professionals. As it stands, the current deal imposes new regulations, tariffs and visa requirements that will make such tours far more expensive and complicated. 

Today (16th March), Labour MP Harriet Harman unveiled a 10-point plan of proposed measures, supported by organisations such as Musicians’ Union and UK Music, to allow British musicians to tour Europe without visas. 

Speaking to The Guardian, Harman said that there is “no time to waste,” and without action “nothing is going to happen on this [issue] except that the shutters will come down”. She also highlighted a complacent attitude in government when it comes to musicians, stating that there's an "assumption that somehow it’s going to be perfectly all right because [musicians] always have been, and they’re so successful so they’ll be fine. And also partly: oh well, it’s just a few middle-class people. Which is completely wrong."

Harman’s plan would also include a “UK creative industries export office” to help support international touring artists, as well as the appointment of a minister to assist musicians in visa applications.

In January, the UK government denied claims that it rejected a deal offer from the EU that would allow musicians to enter countries that belong to the union without a visa following the completion of Brexit. A report by the Independent, quoting an unnamed source close to the negotiations, revealed over the weekend that a “standard” proposal that would exempt performers from needing a visa to enter countries in the EU for trips under 90 days was turned down by the government. "It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians," the EU source told the paper. "We tried to include it, but the UK said no." A government spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) denied the claims of the EU source, saying in a statement: "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."

DJ Mag has been covering what Brexit could mean for music on an ongoing basis. Read up on advice for European DJs playing British dates, our take on British DJs playing European dates, then dive into official UK guidance for artists touring the EU