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EU hits back at UK government’s claim that they rejected visa-free Brexit deal

The European Union has hit back to the UK government’s bold claim that Brussels “rejected their ambitious proposals” regarding for visa-free travel for touring musicians. The government also claimed the EU were “letting down music on both sides of the Channel”. Now though, it’s safe to say they are not best pleased with the way that the UK authorities have attempted to twist events.

This update comes after the government has stated that their “door remains open should the EU change its mind”, once again insinuating that there is no truth to those in the EU’s claims that the UK rejected their offer. This statement follows an EU source telling The Independent: “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.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now agreed to meet with MPs to discuss the situation regarding British musicians touring Europe after his trade deal failed to secure visa-free travel. If this is failed to be secured, it will become difficult for especially emerging talents as musicians must prove savings and a certificate of sponsorship from the event organisers. If artists don’t manage to break Europe, this will dampen the size of the UK’s £5.8billion music industry.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden stated earlier this week: “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. Musicians, artists, entertainers and support staff would have been captured through the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors. This was a straightforward solution for our creative industries which would have benefited all sides.

“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 added.

Reportedly, the UK initially chose not to discuss long- and short-term mobility. The EU had offered visa-free, which would give artists 90 days in every 180 days legal certainty across all EU MS via a joint declaration on paid activities. The UK then tried to narrow it down to 30 days, which they categorised as a “mode 4” commitment. Mode 4 however, doesn’t guarantee that musicians or crew wouldn’t be exempt from visas.

“The UK has chosen to no longer allow the free movement of EU citizens to the UK,” a European Commission spokesperson told NME. “It also refused to include a chapter on mobility in the Agreement. These choices inevitably mean that travel between the EU and the UK – including for business purposes – will no longer be as easy as it was while the UK was a Member State. Neither the short-term business visitor category nor the contractual service supplier/independent professional categories of Mode 4 cover musicians.”

They continued: “The UK refused to include a commitment on visa-free short stays in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Such types of commitments in the EU’s international agreements are usually accompanied by a Joint Declaration explicitly excluding certain categories (for example, sportspersons, artists and journalists) from the requirement to have a visa. As a result, it is now up to each Member State to determine if a visa is required for short-stay visits for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity. This is fully in line with EU law.”