Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has blamed the EU for “letting down music on both sides of the Channel” over post-Brexit touring arrangements.
A petition calling on the Government to negotiate a “free cultural work permit” throughout the EU has received more than 250,000 signatures.
The UK’s post-Brexit travel rules, which came into force on January 1, do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians.
If you love music please help musicians by signing this petition for a Europe-wide visa-free work permit: no one loses from this going ahead; countless people gain. https://t.co/mtx8ZyqnWJ
— Stephen Hough (@houghhough) January 10, 2021
Mr Dowden wrote in NME: “Your Government fought to get a good deal for British music precisely because we recognise how valuable this industry is to the country.
“Some reports have suggested we turned down a bespoke arrangement from the EU to allow musicians to work and perform across the bloc.
“In reality, it was the other way round.”
He added: “We sought a mutually beneficial agreement that would have allowed performers to continue working and perform across the continent without the need for work permits…
People have been asking about Brexit touring rules for creative industries
I want to set the record straight on what the UK asked for & reassure that our door remains open should the EU change it’s mind
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) January 13, 2021
“But the EU turned it down, repeatedly. It did not propose and wouldn’t accept a tailored deal for musicians and artists.
“I’m afraid it was the EU letting down music on both sides of the Channel – not us.”
He said the “outcome is regrettable but it doesn’t have to be final”, adding: “Our door is still open, should the EU change its mind.”
The Government previously denied reports it rejected an offer of visa-free tours by musicians in the EU.
Industry bodies have warned that performers who have to secure individual visas for each country they visit may face extra costs.