Musicians’ Union expresses anger at leaked news that Government rejected EU offer of visa-free travel for touring musicians


Our partners at The Musicians’ Union (MU) have reacted with alarm to the news that the UK Government rejected an EU offer of visa-free touring by British musicians…

Having been reassured by Ministers for many months that the creative arts, and the music industry in particular, was a priority and would be front-of-mind during discussions with the EU, a source close to the process has revealed that a proposal to exempt performers for 90 days from the cost and burden of work permits was turned down by the UK negotiators.

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, said:

“With the British music business having been devastated by Covid-19 and with no end in sight to the black hole of cancelled concerts, tours, festivals and regular gigs that is the very bedrock of our world-class industry, the news, if true, that our own elected representatives chose to turn down such an offer is nigh-on unbelievable. Ever since the result of the referendum in 2016, the MU has campaigned and lobbied for a Musicians’ Passport that would allow our members and their support crew to make a successful living across Europe.

Horace continued:

“This campaign has been backed by all sides of the industry and current petitions, signed by hundreds of thousands of musicians, industry workers and supporters, illustrate just how vital the freedom of economic movement is to our industry worth £5.8bn to the UK. Negotiators on both sides should continue to acknowledge the importance of cultural life and its huge social and economic value by finding an acceptable solution.”

The Union is demanding that the Culture Minister urgently confirms one way or another whether it was the UK Government that blocked the deal which would have granted UK musicians easy access to EU states for touring. As it is, touring in EU states for UK musicians is going to require costly admin and time-consuming bureaucracy.

The MU is also briefing MPs to ask questions of the Government and for genuine support to be given to both live performers and those freelance musicians who remain with no financial assistance during lockdown.