Visas: EU Countries

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 26th July 2021.

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Photo of Lord Bowness Lord Bowness Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 7 July 2021 (HL1337) regarding the duration of visa-free travel in the EU, and further to the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons Liaison Committee on 7 July (Question 125) regarding visa-free travel for touring artists and musicians that they are working to "sort it out", (1) who is working on visa waiver or extension, (2) to which minister they report, and (3) with which member states of the EU they are negotiating.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to negotiate (1) visa-free travel, and (2) Europe-wide work permits, for musicians and crew.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

This government recognises the importance of our world leading creative and cultural industries. That is why the UK took an ambitious approach during negotiations with the EU 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. Furthermore, 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.

Our focus is now on engaging with Member States, who are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in the EU. We have spoken to every Member State, involving British Embassies and DCMS ministers. We have established that musicians and performers do not require visas or work permits for short-term tours in at least 19 out of 27 Member States, including France and Germany.

We are now working closely with individual Member States that do require visas or permits for short-term touring 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. These countries are Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Malta, Bulgaria, and Romania. We are also still confirming the details of requirements with Cyprus.

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