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UK Music welcomes PM’s vow to fix EU work permits crisis

The UK music industry has welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to fix the European Union work permits crisis facing touring musicians.

During the Liaison Committee yesterday (Thursday), Johnson told MPs that officials were working “flat out” to find a solution with their European counterparts.

However, many in the industry have explained they are yet to see any proof of negotiations with EU countries on post-Brexit touring, or any details about those talks.

DCMS Select Committee Chair Julian Knight quizzed Johnson over the issue and told him that workers in the creative industries now faced “uneconomic” visa fees, struggled to move instruments and kit and were losing work to those with EU passports.

He asked: “Why were these sectors allowed to suffer a no deal Brexit?”

Johnson replied: “I want to say how strongly I share the frustrations of the sector. This is a massively important part of the economy that contributes many billions of pounds to the economy and jobs and to the general joy of the nation. It is hugely important and they are also a massive export industry. We must fix it.”

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed the pledge, adding: “It is also good to hear that the Government is ‘working flat out bilaterally with countries’, and we look forward to hearing of more progress on this front soon. We stand ready to support Government in these negotiations with different member states, which must be an utmost priority.”

The new rules mean that artists touring the continent are now required to check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each member state in which they intend to tour. These new measures may require them to have multiple visas or work permits, which could be expensive and potentially prohibitive, particularly for musicians at the start of their careers.

In January, UK music stars, including Elton John and Roger Waters, said in an open letter that the government has “shamefully failed” artists in its Brexit deal and called for visa-free touring in the European Union.

The letter, which was organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and published in The Times, was signed by more than 100 musicians plus dozens of other prominent figures in the industry who have formed a united front to condemn an agreement they claim will make Europe a no-go zone for musicians.

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