Musicians to be able to tour visa-free in 19 EU countries

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the EU.

Musicians to be able to tour visa-free in 19 EU countries FluxFactory via iStock
Pete Wishart said the decision to scrap touring visas was 'politically motivated'.

UK musicians and performers will be able to tour in a number of European countries without the need for a visa or work permit, the UK Government has announced.

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the EU and have prompted fears that touring artists will incur large fees in many of the countries they visit.

However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said they have negotiated with 19 EU Member State countries to allow musicians and performers from the UK to conduct short tours visa-free.

These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden.

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The Government said talks are ongoing with remaining EU Member State countries, including Spain, Portugal and Greece, to align their arrangements with the UK’s, which allows touring performers and support staff to visit for up to three months without a visa.

DCMS said in a statement: “We want the UK’s fantastic performers and other creative professionals to be able to tour abroad easily.

“We recognise challenges remain around touring, and we are continuing to work closely with the industry.

“We want to ensure that when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, touring can resume and our world-leading creative and cultural artists can continue to travel widely, learning their craft, growing their audiences and showing the best of British creativity to the world.”

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It comes after months of campaigning from musicians such as Sir Elton John and Ed Sheeran on the issue of post-Brexit touring, with Sir Elton previously warning the rules threatened “a generation of talent”.

SNP MP and former Runrig band member, Pete Wishart said it is right that the UK Government has “finally seen sense”.

“The decision to scrap touring visas in the first place was politically motivated by the Tories and their ‘Brexit Britain’ ideology – and should never have been made. Especially given the EU was ready and willing to continue them reciprocatively,” he said.

“It is right that the UK government has finally seen sense, done what should have been done from the get go, and negotiated to allow our musicians and performers to tour visa-free around Europe. 

“Although visa-free travel for artists to nineteen countries is good, it is not the full access we had as part of the EU, and I hope the UK government continues to negotiate to ensure our artists can travel freely throughout all 27 EU countries.

“Anything less than that will still drive up the costs and cut long-standing creative ties between Scotland and some European countries. 

“The fact remains that Scotland continues to suffer at the hands of a Brexit and a Westminster Government we did not vote for. The only way our creative sector can truly be protected is with independence.”