British artists are now able to tour in 19 European member states without a visa, the government announced on Wednesday.
The 19 EU countries allowing British artists visa-free travel for short tours are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it is 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 UK’s generous rules, which allow touring performers and support staff to come to the UK for up to three months without a visa.”
The DCMS confirmed to Euronews that the length of the visa-free permit depends on each individual country with some of the 19 member states allowing up to three months.
The deal comes after the government has faced severe criticism from the music industry after visa-free touring for British musicians was not included in the Brexit deal agreed with the EU.
A letter published in The Times earlier this year and signed by prominent artists including Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Glass Animals, Liam Gallagher and the Sex Pistols, had also argued that the “costly work permits” and “mountain of paperwork for their equipment” necessary to tour would be particularly burdensome for young musicians.
The Let the Music Move campaign — supported by artists including Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, Sampha, Annie Lennox, and New Order — stressed for instance that the EU touring market for UK artists is the world’s biggest, nearly four times the size of the US.
A spokesperson for the campaign described the latest announcement to Euronews as “an admission of failure” on the part of the British government:
“Failure to fulfil the promises made by Government about securing our industry’s future during negotiations, failure to ‘fix’ the issue, as per the Prime Minister’s statement of March this year, and failure to provide certainty around touring in almost a third of EU countries, eight months after the music industry was dealt a no-deal scenario.”
“It remains that the UK’s music industry is in a far less advantageous position now than it was pre-January,” they added.
They also called for the government to release the touring requirements for performers and crew for each of the 27 member states.
The Musicians’ Union described the latest announcement as a “positive development” in a statement to Euronews, adding that they “need to see the detail to be certain about what it means for musicians.”
“There are also still major problems in countries like Spain and with issues like carnets, merchandise, cabotage and splitter vans also still causing problems, we will continue to push the government to do more to sort these out,” the spokesperson said.