To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2021 to Question 156495 on Arts: EU Countries, what progress the Government has made on (a) negotiating a bespoke Visa Waiver Agreement with the EU for the creative sector, (b) reaching bilateral agreements with EU Member States regarding the introduction of cultural exemptions for work permits and (c) mitigating the impact of new road haulage and cross-trade rules on pan-European cultural tours.
This government recognises the importance of our world leading creative and cultural industries. That is why the UK took an ambitious approach during negotiations that would have ensured that touring musicians, performers and their support staff did not need work-permits to perform in the EU. Regrettably, our proposals were rejected by the EU, but our door remains open if the EU wants to reconsider its position.
A bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU would require the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) to be renegotiated. The TCA is the basis of our trading relations with the EU, and this is not going to be renegotiated.
The Commission would be likely to argue that any EU-wide visa waiver agreement can only be part of a wider package with a binding non-discrimination clause and a reciprocal visa waiver agreement covering all current and future Member States. This was what the Commission proposed in the negotiations and would be incompatible with our manifesto commitment to retain control of our borders.
We have spoken to every Member States about the importance of touring, and we have established that at least 18 out of 27 Member States, including France and Germany, allow some visa and permit free touring. Furthermore, we are now working closely with individual Member States to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.
We are aware that the new provisions in the TCA around haulage will require the sector to adapt to new requirements and ways of working with the EU now we are no longer a Member State. The Department for Transport published a call for evidence on 30 June to seek views and evidence on two possible options that could help support these sectors adapt to the new requirements.