The long campaign of U.K. musicians and performers who were unable to perform visa-free in the European Union post-Brexit has finally seen some success with 19 EU nations allowing short-term tours without visas and work permits.
“We, as government, have spoken to every EU member state about the issues facing our creative and cultural industries when looking to tour in Europe,” the U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said in a statement on Wednesday. “From these discussions, 19 member states have confirmed U.K. musicians and performers do not need visas or work permits for short-term tours.”
These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.
“We are now actively engaging with the remaining EU Member States that do not allow visa and permit free touring, and calling on them to align their arrangements with the U.K.’s generous rules, which allow touring performers and support staff to come to the U.K. for up to three months without a visa,” the statement added. “Formal approaches via officials and DCMS Ministers have been made to Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Cyprus.”
The development comes after months of campaigning by prominent music industry stalwarts including Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Bob Geldof, Sting, Nicola Benedetti and the Kanneh-Mason family, and various entertainment unions, who have been urging the U.K. government to restore the painless European touring process they used to enjoy prior to Brexit.
“After months of work behind the scenes by the entertainment unions and campaign groups, today’s announcement is an overdue but welcome first step. Equity has been leading the work with DCMS and the Department for International Trade to get the right deal for our members working in the EU post Brexit, and today’s announcement is necessary but not sufficient to get to where we need to be,” said Paul W. Fleming, general secretary of U.K. creative industries union Equity.
“It’s especially welcome that some of the largest European countries and those with the most complex work permit regimes are included,” Fleming added. “We’re still waiting on a country-by-country breakdown of how this will work in practice, proper definitions of short term touring, and the implications on carnets and cabotage for small scale productions, and urge the government to publish that detail immediately.”
The music industry will be keenly observing the issue of cabotage — the movement of goods between countries — as music touring involves large amounts of equipment travelling across borders. According to current cabotage rules, U.K. hauliers are allowed to make one initial stop in the EU and then a maximum of two more within seven days, before being required to return home.