The British government and the European Union are locked in a war of denials over the end of free movement across the continent for artists and crews.
After the peak of the Brexit transition period, workers are no longer guaranteed to travel visa-free and may have to apply for additional work permits for shows in certain countries. The Brexit deal between the two entities means UK groups can tour Europe for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, but some countries like Germany and Spain will still need additional visas.
This week, pressure mounted for an exemption to be granted to performers, but this has not yet been agreed. The two sides subsequently began to play the blame game.
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Initially, the British government claimed to have tried to guarantee favorable conditions for touring musicians, but its proposals were rejected by the EU. A government spokesperson told the BBC earlier this week that “the door remains open” for further discussions.
However, on Thursday the EU hit back at the allegations, saying the UK was “refusing” a visa-free tour plan. “I very much regretted that the British did not have more ambition for the mobility of people,” EU chief negotiator Michal Barnier told reporters.
“Since last March, we have made quite ambitious proposals in terms of mobility, including for specific categories such as journalists, performers, musicians and others. But you have to be two to make a deal, ”he said.
The news has left the music business in arms, with leading figures taking to social media to express their frustration. A petition has also been launched calling on the government to “negotiate a free cultural work permit”, attracting over 260,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Film and television crews will be subject to the same rules, with some countries requiring additional visas to work. Stays longer than 90 days will see UK nationals requiring a relevant residence permit or visa issued by national authorities, in accordance with national or EU rules. Different rules apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania and if a worker goes to these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the total of 90 days , according to the BFI. The organization said it encourages anyone planning to work to verify the requirements in each country.
Responding to the current state of affairs, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke called the UK government “thornless”, while Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess said musicians owed “an explanation”:
Sensational. Thornless fuck. Sensational…. https://t.co/GrjYbRwtxT
– Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) January 9, 2021
– Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) January 9, 2021