Culture minister tells DCMS committee EU failed to address touring visa concerns

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

The European Union’s proposals for visa-free travel for UK performers failed to address the “creative and cultural sectors’ concerns”, Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage has said.

She said the Government had offered a “straightforward solution” that would have benefited both sides but this was rejected.

Ms Dinenage is due to appear in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on February 16 in a one-off session about the Government’s handling of negotiations with the EU over the issue.

Xfm Winter Wonderland – London
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

In a letter to committee chairman Julian Knight ahead of the session, Ms Dinenage repeated the argument that the Government “fought for a good deal for our world-leading music and creative industries”.

She added: “During negotiations, we proposed to capture the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff, through the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors in the entry and temporary stay chapter of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

“This would have allowed musicians and support staff to travel and perform in the UK and the EU more easily, without needing work permits. The offer was a straightforward solution for the creative industries and would have benefited both sides. Regrettably, the EU rejected our proposals.”

Ms Dinenage wrote that the EU had proposed measures that “would not have addressed the creative and cultural sectors’ concerns”.

MP portraits
Committee chairman Julian Knight (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

“The proposals were non-binding, did not include touring but only ‘ad-hoc performances’, did not include technical staff, and did not address work permits,” she wrote.

“As noted, the EU’s proposals were also part of a package on visa-free travel that was not consistent with the UK’s manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders.”

Ministers debated the issue earlier this week after more than 280,000 people signed a petition calling for a cultural work permit deal to be reached.

Last month, Sir Elton John, Roger Waters and Ed Sheeran were among more than 100 musicians who criticised the Government in a letter which said performers have been “shamefully failed” by new visa rules.

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