UK-EU talks over visa-free travel for creatives ‘unlikely’ in short-term

Talks to secure visa-free travel for artists and other creatives in the EU are “unlikely” to restart in the near future, according to the Government.

Cabinet Office minister Lord True said the EU’s previous “refusal” to consider the UK’s post-Brexit travel proposals for those working in the sector suggested Brussels would not be willing to reopen the subject so soon after negotiations have concluded.

The UK Government will continue to give the “highest priority” to the sector and there is an option to review the list of activities which do not require work permits, Lord True added.

As It Was Premiere – London
One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson (Ian West/PA)

A petition calling on the Government to negotiate a “free cultural work permit” to ensure ease of travel throughout the 27 member states has received more than 225,000 signatures.

Stars including One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson, former Boyzone member Ronan Keating, singer-songwriter Laura Marling and Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess have encouraged their fans to support the campaign online.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Conservative former minister Lord Hunt of Wirral said: “We must press for … reciprocal visa-free travel arrangements for touring performers and crews.”

Crossbench peer Lord Berkeley of Knighton also said: “Now the Government has provided financial support to UK fisheries of £100 million to address impact of lost quotas having left the EU.

“My Lords, I love fish, but I value our cultural wellbeing still more. The fishing industry contributes £1.4 billion to the UK economy compared to the music industry which is worth £5.8 billion.

“Will the Government consider providing similar financial support to mitigate the lost work for touring musicians due to the lack of mobility, provisions and the additional red tape?”

Lord True, closing the debate, explained: “In negotiations with the EU on business travel we proposed to expand the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors, notably to include work done by artists, entertainers, musicians and supporting staff.

“This would have ensured that musicians could have travelled to the EU without work permits.

“However, the EU rejected this because they considered that touring musicians were providing a service directly to consumers rather than performing a business visit.

“We did point out that there were other types of short-term business that provide direct services, but the EU didn’t alter its position.

“Considering the EU’s refusal to consider our proposals it seems unlikely they’ll want to reopen this subject so soon after the negotiations have concluded.

“However, there is a review clause on the list of permitted activities and I can assure the House that the Government will continue to give the highest priority to this important sector.”

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