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Lords report calls for new post-Brexit mobility agreement

The EU Services Sub-Committee of the House of Lords has published a report calling for new negotiations for freedom of movement for touring performers and their teams

Produced following extensive research and discussion with the UK’s touring industries, music industry associations and film production companies, the report, entitled ‘Beyond Brexit: Trade in Services’, covers all areas of the services sector, including financial and research, but sets out a series of recommendations for the creative sector.

‘We are deeply concerned about the potential impact of mobility provisions in the TCA on the over two million people employed in the creative industries, which could make touring prohibitively bureaucratic and expensive. We call on the Government and EU to work together to remedy this situation before international travel resumes.’

Quoting Horace Trubridge of the Musicians’ Union (MU) and Deborah Annetts of The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), as well as members of the tour production and trucking industries, the report paints a dreadful picture of the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations. Horace Trubridge said that any  help would be welcome but that, ‘We would much prefer to see the problem solved than UK taxpayers’ money being used to try to cure a problem that could be solved if there was a will on both sides to sit down and negotiate.’ He advocated a ‘Europe-wide reciprocal agreement to make frictionless mobility for musicians.’

The ISM has proposed a ‘bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU that is separate to the trade deal,’ which would exempt ‘touring performers, creative teams and crews from needing to obtain a visa for up to 90 days is a 180-day period when seeking paid work.’

The enquiry drew on ISM research for its findings and quoted its suggestion that the UK should enter ‘bilateral discussions with individual EU Member States that do not currently offer cultural exemptions for work permits, such as Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal.’

The report’s recommendations stated, ‘We urge the Government to negotiate, as a matter of urgency, a bilateral and reciprocal agreement to make mobility arrangements for touring performers, creative teams and crews.

‘The Government should also seek to negotiate an agreement to resolve the barriers to the movement of goods used in cultural and sporting events that are imported on a temporary basis. These arrangements will be mutually beneficial to creative industries in both the UK and EU.’

It also called for government funding to replace the vital Creative Europe money that had brought in over £100 million between 2014 and 2020 and created collaborations between UK cultural organisations and over 1000 companies in 37 of the participating countries, including those outside the EU.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU removes UK organisations’ access to this programme, leaving UK businesses and organisations without access to funding and excluded from major international cultural projects.

The report responded by saying, ‘Now that the UK has left the EU’s Creative Europe programme, the Government should ensure that funding continues to be allocated to the creative industries. This funding should continue to support international collaboration.’

The day following the publication of the report, Prime Minister Johnson was questioned on the subject of touring artists by the Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Despite praising the creative sector, the Prime Minister could give no assurances other than to say the problems must get ‘ironed out’ with the EU and that the Government was working ‘flat out’ bilaterally with each of the EU Member states.

For further information: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/447/eu-services-subcommittee/news/153013/government-must-act-to-reduce-barriers-to-ukeu-services-trade/