Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee for this parliament, has asked Culture Minister John Whittingdale what assessment he has made of the potential economic effect on UK musicians of leaving the transitional period without an agreement with the EU, and challenged him to explain whether it is Government policy to negotiate an agreement on multi-entry touring visas for UK musicians wishing to perform in the European Union.
In his replies Whittingdale said "We understand the diverse circumstances of companies, organisations and individual practitioners and how they may need to adapt as we leave the EU". He told Benn the Government recognises that the strength of the sector "depends on musicians and crew being able to move quickly and easily between countries, taking necessary equipment with them.”
He referred to ‘mode 4’ within the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services, which concerns the movement of people providing services across borders, and said: “On temporary entry for business purposes (mode 4), a reciprocal agreement based on best precedent will mean that UK citizens will be able to undertake some business activities in the EU without a work permit, on a short-term basis.
“The same would apply for EU citizens making business visits to the UK. The precise details, including range of activities, documentation needed, and the time limit, will be negotiated.”
He said the Government wants "a relationship with the EU based on friendly cooperation, centred on free trade on the lines of the free trade agreement the EU has with Canada". But in the event that a comprehensive free trade agreement cannot be agreed, "the transition period will end and the UK will operate under the deal agreed with the EU in 2019 and an arrangement similar to that between Australia and the EU"...
"In all circumstances, we expect UK musicians’ work to continue to be an export that is highly valued in the EU as it is across the world."