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The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music (APPG on Music), an influential cross-party group of more than 100 MPs and peers, has issued a report today (19 July) calling on the Government to take urgent action to remove red tape hindering UK musicians from touring the EU.

The APPG on Music’s Let the Music Move – A New Deal for Touring report outlines the urgent action the Government should take to help UK musicians and crew tour Europe more easily. It warns that UK music workers are “facing more costs, more complications and getting fewer opportunities” since the UK left the EU at the end of January 2020.

The issues highlighted include complex post-Brexit restrictions on short-term working in the EU for UK music workers and the inability to use UK trucks for British musicians touring Europe.

Sir Elton John has warned that less established UK artists risked “being stuck in Dover” and that the industry was facing long term damage if the situation was not resolved.

In a statement to the APPG on Music inquiry, undertaken for the report, Sir Elton John said, “The Government has had a golden opportunity to fix the problem while COVID was closing down touring. While some progress has been made that opportunity has been allowed to slip.”

Among those who gave evidence to MPs and Peers at the inquiry were veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith (Promoter), LIVE Touring Group chair Craig Stanley, Association of British Orchestra CEO Mark Pemberton, PEARLE* – Live Performance Europe director Anita Debaere and Everything Everything bassist Jeremy Pritchard.

British band White Lies were forced to cancel a show in Paris in April, after their equipment was “detained by Brexit legislation leaving England”.

The band criticised the “painful and unworkable” post-Brexit regulations facing UK musicians and crew, which had forced them to cancel a gig.

The APPG on Music report concludes that more UK Government action is urgently needed to tackle issues around visas, as well as the movement of kit and merchandise.

The report’s key recommendations to the Government to help remove the barriers to touring the EU and continue the sector’s recovery include:

  • The appointment of a “Touring Tsar” to co-ordinate the response of Government and other stakeholders to the issues facing touring cultural workers.
  • The creation of a Transitional Support Fund to help UK music exporters deal with increased costs of trading in Europe post-Brexit.
  • The establishment of a new Music Exports Office and a new ‘one-stop’ website to help British music firms exporting to the EU.
  • The Government should work with EU nations to set up a Cultural Touring Agreement to cut red tape and costs involved in EU touring.
  • The expansion of the BPI-administered Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) and the PRS Foundation-administered International Showcase Fund (ISF).
  • An overhaul of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to exempt music workers supporting cultural performances along with changes to get ensure all EU states allow musicians to work up to 90 day days in each 180-day period.
  • An expansion of the number of border points where documents such as carnets and Music Instrument Certificates can be checked.

The APPG on Music chair Kevin Brennan said, “We have heard evidence from right across the UK music industry about some of the horrendous problems musicians and crew face touring the EU.

“It’s over two years since Brexit, yet there is still a mountain of red tape and extra costs that musicians and crew have to deal with before they can play to fans in many EU states.

“Our recommendations include the appointment of a Touring Tsar by the Government who could work across government departments to get rid of restrictions that are hampering the growth of the music industry and creation of new jobs.

“Without urgent action there is a very real risk that the talent pipeline on which the UK music industry relies will be badly damaged for years to come.”

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said, “This excellent report from a cross-party group of MPs and peers spells out with crystal clarity the challenges many musicians and crew still face when they set out to tour and work in the EU.

“The influence of British music right across the world is one of the greatest examples of the UK’s soft power. Touring musicians are ambassadors for Britain and Government should be doing everything it can to help remove the barriers they face.

“The UK is a global music superpower – if we want to keep it that way, then it’s mission critical we remove the barriers facing touring musicians and Let The Music Move.”