Musicians busk along city centre to protest Brexit touring rules

Demonstrators call for a change in rules to make it easier for UK artists to tour Europe.

Musicians busk along Edinburgh Royal Mile to protest Brexit touring rules in Europe Getty Images

Musicians who say Brexit has caused massive issues for touring and exporting to the European Union have taken their call to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

The “Face the Music” campaign took to busking along the route from the Edinburgh City Chambers to the Scottish Parliament, before taking part in a round-table discussion at Holyrood.

Campaigners are urging the UK Government to negotiate with the EU to find a solution which would not only make it easier for British artists to work in Europe but also for European performers to come here.

The “European Movement” says 40% of musicians have reported having lost work since Brexit due to red tape.

Costs and effort to secure visas and to transport equipment and merchandise abroad have been blamed for this – as well as in some cases EU venues and promoters opting not to offer work to UK-based musicians to avoid the hassle.

Scots folk singer Iona Fyfe has taken to prioritising touring America as it’s become far easier to organise than Europe.

“I went on tours for Switzerland to Italy to Germany in one van with very little checks, maybe checking the van’s weight,” she said recalling the landscape before leaving the EU.

“But now being out of the European Union it means we have different visa requirements, different carnet requirements for every single member state.

“To take your CDs there you have all these ERI numbers. It’s just things that you didn’t think of before.”

The UK Government says visa and work permit-free routes are available in many of the major European nations but that is for short-term touring and artists say that can be extremely prohibitive.

The impact is felt on events here in Britain too.

David Clarke, the chairman of the European Movement in Scotland, told STV News: “I live in Edinburgh, one of the most wonderful things about living in Edinburgh is the festivals and of course, those difficulties are reciprocated by bringing across musicians.

“What we’re calling for – the politicians, the UK Government in particular, the ones who can negotiate this – to negotiate with the European Union for a bilateral solution to this problem.”

The music industry is worth £1.1bn to the UK economy and now more than 28,000 people have signed the petition calling for Ministers to take action.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are supporting the UK’s brilliant artists to adapt to the new arrangements so they can continue to perform in and export to the EU, including through the successful Music Export Growth Scheme which has supported more than 300 artists to launch their careers internationally.

“The overwhelming majority of EU Member States, including the biggest touring markets such as Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, offer visa and work permit free routes for UK performers and other creative professionals.

“We continue to work closely with the music industry, across Government and with European partners to support UK musicians to adapt to the new requirements.”

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