Some of the UK’s best-known rock stars are among the 110 musicians who are demanding that Boris Johnson agree to tour the EU without a visa to avoid artists having to pay for really expensive country-specific work permits. Among others, Roger Waters, Sir Elton John, Sting, Bob Geldof, Liam Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, Brian May, Roger Daltrey, Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood and Glastonbury Festival organizers Michael and Emily Eavis are among the signatories. of the open letter published in recent days in The Times newspaper, and in it they complain in an extremely harsh tone that it has “shamefully failed” in the negotiation that the government of Boris Johnson has made in relation to the conditions of work of the musicians from now on and has not fulfilled the commitment it acquired to negotiate that the musicians could benefit from a special regime that would allow them to tour Europe without the need for a visa and exempt from certain fees.
With Brexit already consummated, de facto reverts to the situation before 1973, the year in which Great Britain entered what was still simply the European Common Market in relation to the issuance of work permits outside the United Kingdom, tax treatment income generated abroad and a long series of circumstances that perhaps many of those who were enthusiastically favorable to Brexit, such as Roger Daltrey – the Who singer recently told Sky News: Brexit with the rock business? As if we were not on tour in Europe before the creation of the EU ”- or Bruce Dickinson had not foreseen.
Among many other drawbacks that since the health situation allows the normal functioning of the tour, festival and concert circuit to regain normal operation, now both the artists and all the technical and auxiliary personnel traveling with them on a European tour will need separate visas for different EU countries and will be forced to pay a customs duty on sound and light equipment, as well as on musical instruments whose price can be around 350 euros in each country. Similarly, rates will now also apply to musicians and technicians to obtain their work permits. These and other measures, in the opinion of the signatories of the letter published in The Times, may “push many artists to the limit.” Under the terms of the agreement, British bands can tour Europe for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. But tours in Germany and Spain, for example, will now require additional visas for paid work, while those in France and the Netherlands will not. According to the Association of British Orchestras, truck drivers carrying stage equipment must now return to the UK after visiting two EU member states, making the logistics of organizing a multi-country tour extremely difficult.
The letter maintains that there is a “huge hole where the promised freedom of movement for musicians should be.” The costs resulting from work permits and other bureaucratic red tape will make many tours unviable, especially for emerging young musicians who are already struggling to stay afloat due to the covid ban on live music. ” signers. The letter adds: “This failure in the negotiation will push many actors to the limit” and urges the Government to “do what it said it would do” and negotiate paperless travel to Europe for British artists and their team. To the public and although in the letter it is not expressly mentioned, in many cases these added costs could affect the final price of the tickets, since there would be many management agencies that would significantly increase the cache of their artists and with it, promoters would be forced to increase prices proportionally in relation to that rise.
UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden responded to the letter today rejecting the musicians’ criticism and insisting that they should ask the EU why they “rejected the UK’s sensible proposal.” However, the EU has insisted that it was the UK government’s decision to end visa-free tours for musicians on the continent, following protests by artists. From Brussels it has been insisted that the United Kingdom “rejected” a plan that would have allowed musicians to travel without visas. EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the result was one of the “inevitable consequences” of Brexit.
“I was very sorry that the British had no more ambition for the mobility of their people,” Barnier told reporters on Thursday. “Since last March we made quite ambitious proposals in terms of mobility, even for specific categories such as journalists, performers, musicians and others,” he continued. “But to make a deal, you need both parties to be there to collaborate.”
Be that as it may, this is terrible news for music, as it is not ruled out that the United Kingdom applies reciprocity to these measures, that is, that it imposes high fees to be able to grant permits to European musicians in its country, and it is neither The British circuit is much less important for many Spanish artists who frequently tour there given the large amount of immigration from our country that was forced to leave by the effects of the 2008 economic crisis. The bureaucracy, and in this case, the The blindness and incompetence of populism and the lack of solidarity of a government such as Boris Johnson’s can cause enormous damage to music and culture if the means are not put in place to reverse this situation.
And if governments are not capable of this, shouldn’t the musicians themselves, organized collectively, exert this pressure so that music is not drowned out by bureaucracy?