The MU continues to press the Government on the impact of Brexit on touring in the EU, and it was welcome to hear Labour Leader Keir Starmer reference the difficulties in his response to the Budget a couple of weeks ago.
Discussions with the Labour Party have been very constructive, with MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge addressing a meeting of Labour MPs including Alison McGovern, Rachel Reeves, Kerry McCarthy, Cat McKinnell and Harriet Harman.
Several MU members also spoke at the meeting and Harriet Harman has been working on a Labour Party plan for EU touring. Early drafts of this look very useful and will hopefully help in putting pressure on Ministers.
The Government must negotiate a bespoke visa waiver agreement
Of course as welcome as Labour Party support is, it is the Government that needs to act, and Horace continues to have weekly meetings with the DCMS. We also ask the Department for answers to specific questions and issues on an almost weekly basis and we are currently waiting for clarification on a number of points around carnets.
Our work with the ISM continues and we issued a joint statement following a discussion by peers in the House of Lords yesterday considering the impact of the new visa and work permit requirements for touring in Europe. Whilst we welcomed the Government reiterating its pledge to find workable solutions to critical issues like mobility, we have yet to see or hear any detail about what Ministers are actually doing and we will continue to ask for evidence that the issues are being actively worked on.
The MU and the ISM believe that the urgent challenges facing musicians can only be immediately solved if the UK Government negotiates a bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU for the creative sector and enters bilateral discussions with key EU Member States to sort out work permit rules.
Visa waiver agreements are common practice and the EU has entered into 28 of them with countries like Colombia, UAE, Tonga and St Lucia since 2009. Legal experts have advised they are both hugely beneficial for musicians and compatible with the Government’s manifesto commitments.
We urgently need a progress report from ministers
MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge commented:
“We are now close to three months since the UK left the EU with no agreement to ensure the frictionless mobility of musicians, as was repeatedly promised by this Government for the last three years. This situation has created alarm and despondency among musicians whose livelihoods have been destroyed by Covid-19 but were planning to resume their careers by performing live in EU member states later this year.
“We urgently need a progress report from Ministers on securing visa-free touring and bilateral agreements to reassure the music community that more is happening to remedy the situation beyond mere words.”
What is clear is that the pressure that continues to be put on the Government by the MU and others is having an impact and we must and will keep this up.
Take action now
Members can help by tweeting their MP to ask for details of what discussions and meetings are currently being had by Ministers – use the hashtag #MusiciansPassport and tag us @WeAreTheMU so that we can share it too.
Find your MP via the UK Parliament website.