UK ‘rejected offer’ of visa-free tours by musicians in EU

The UK rejected an offer of visa-free tours by musicians to EU countries, despite blaming Brussels for what the industry is calling the devastating blow of them requiring permits.

A “standard” proposal to exempt performers from the huge cost and bureaucracy for 90 days was turned down, The Independent has been reported – because the government is insisting on denying that to EU artists visiting this country.

“It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians. We tried to include it, but the UK said no,” an EU source close to the negotiations said.

The revelation comes after the shock threat of visas sparked protests that future tours will have to be abandoned, at a time when musicians are already reeling from the impact of Covid-19. It sparked calls for ministers to reveal exactly what took place in the negotiations, after they insisted Brussels was responsible for the damaging new red tape.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove on Saturday warned all kinds of businesses to brace for “significant border disruption” as more of the consequences from rule changes emerged. 

The head of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) said she was “horrified” by the evidence that an offer on music was spurned, while Labour said fans would “not forgive” the government.

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