UK ministers have rejected calls to push visa-free touring for musicians.

It had been hoped the final UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve 2020 (just days before new regulations came into place on 1st January 2021), would include special consideration for touring professionals. 

Earlier this week, despite a petition for visa-free touring garnering more than 220,000 signatures, culture minister Caroline Dinenage confirmed that musicians and artists touring in the EU “will be required to check domestic immigration and minister rules for each member states in which they wish to tour,” and added that visa-free visits for touring artists was “not compatible with our manifesto commitment to taking back control of our borders.” She also claimed that the changes would have enabled “visa-free short stays for all EU citizens.”

As it stands, the current deal imposes new regulations, tariffs and visa requirements that will make such tours far more expensive and complicated. It raises further fears over what this fresh blow could mean for the recovery of a UK music industry, which was worth £5.2billion before the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This morning, it was revealed that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will meet with music industry representatives today (20th) amid concerns over Brexit and the new regulations now in place.

Elsewhere, in Prime Minister’s Questions last week (13th), Boris Johnson was asked by Kevin Brennan MP if he was willing to meet with “a small group of MPs, including the Conservative Chair of the Culture Select Committee” to solve a problem that’s “clearly fixable”. 

“I will of course ensure that there is a proper meeting with the honourable gentleman and his colleagues on this subject, which is extremely important,” Johnson replied. “I know that our friends in the EU will be wanting to go further to improve things, not just for musicians, but for business travellers of all kinds, because there is a mutual benefit.”

Read up on advice for European DJs playing British dates, our take on British DJs playing European dates, then dive into official UK guidance for artists touring the EU