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MPs call for Prime Minister to step in over EU touring issues

Members of Parliament (MPs) have demanded action from Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the issues faced by musicians and crew when it comes to touring within the European Union. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Music has revealed plans to hold a cross-party inquiry into the barriers and delays facing musicians. A letter has also been sent to the Prime Minister on behalf of cross-party MPs on the EU touring problems. 

Since the United Kingdom left the EU and the Brexit deal was finalised, there have been some issues around working visas that have made it difficult for artists, and particularly emerging musicians, to perform in EU countries. 

Sir Elton John warned in June that the UK music industry was at risk of losing “generation of talent”. 

Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome in the UK, David Warburton, is the chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Music, and said: “Musicians and crew are facing an enormous and grave problem when it comes to touring the EU that is not going to go away. 

“Our cross-party group has written to the Prime Minister to ask him to take urgent action to clear these visa and travel barriers that threaten the success of the UK music industry, particularly. 

“We need the Government to ramp up negotiations with nations like Spain where costly visas are still in place and to look for swift solutions to both the bias and transport issues facing musicians and crew.” 

The letter outlines three key areas where the MPs wish to see urgent action, including the Government ramping up negotiations with EU nations that bar visa-free touring, more steps to help UK artists touring overseas and for ministers to explore forming a new European agreement exempting cultural tours from immigration and transport red tape rules. 

Labour MP Harriet Harman, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Music, added: “This is a very important initiative. There is deep recognition from all parties in the House of Commons of the importance of music to the cultural and economic life of the UK, and of the jeopardy caused by restrictions on UK musicians touring in the EU. 

“Livelihoods and careers are at risk and musicians need action from the Government now. This inquiry is an opportunity to present the Government with an ultimatum that they must sort this out.”

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Music will begin its inquiries with its first evidence session later this month. The group will be looking at the impact the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which is the deal between the UK and EU following Brexit, has had on UK music workers. 

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, UK Music chief executive, said: “This is a hugely welcome move by MPs from across the political divide who are as keen as we are to overcome the barriers facing musicians and crew touring the EU. 

“The extra costs and red tape mean some artists are losing work and some tours, particularly those by emerging musicians, are not viable at the moment. We need urgent Government action to break down the barriers facing musicians and crew including a transitional support package of financial aid and further steps to encourage exports.” 

Image: Jefferson Santos on Unsplash