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The Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP asks COT to comment.

The Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP Asks COT to comment
The Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP recently asked the following parliamentary question to the @DCMS:
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what bilateral arrangements are in place for UK musicians seeking to tour in Belgium?
She thought that the response she received was wholly inadequate & misleading, so passed it onto #CarryOnTouring for our thoughts.

The @DCMS response:
"This Government is committed to supporting the UK’s creative industries, including musicians, to adapt to new arrangements with the EU.

EU Member States are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in each Member State. We have engaged bilaterally with all EU Member States, and nearly all (24 out of 27) have confirmed they offer visa and work permit free routes for UK performers for short-term touring.

This includes the UK’s biggest touring markets such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Following engagement by the UK Government and the sector, this also includes Spain, which introduced 90-day visa- and work permit- free touring in November 2021; and Greece, which announced a visa and work permit free route for UK creatives in June 2022, currently due to be in place until 31 December 2022. The UK Government is continuing to engage with Greece on extending this arrangement beyond the end of this year, however this is ultimately a decision for the Greek Government to take.

The Government is engaged with the remaining Member States - Cyprus, Malta and Portugal - on allowing creative professionals to tour more easily. However, ultimately it is up to these countries to align their requirements more closely with the UK’s generous rules.

The UK’s domestic rules allow musicians, entertainers and artists (and their technical staff) from EU Member States, to perform in the UK without requiring a visa, and the UK does not have work-permits.

More broadly, we have confirmed that:

  1. Nearly all Member States offer visa and work permit free routes for musicians and creative performers.
  2. Portable musical instruments, carried or in a vehicle, can be transported cost-free and should not require ATA Carnets; and
  3. Small ‘splitter vans’ are not subject to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement limits around haulage for the creative sectors and ‘cross trade’. In addition, the Government has introduced dual registration to support specialist hauliers, meaning they can benefit from more generous market access arrangements in Great Britain and the EU.

#Carry On Touring’s Response:

The Govt states that they are committed to supporting the creative industries. 18 months ago they talked about setting up a music export office yet there has been no progress on this at all.

They say nearly all member states offer visa and work permit free routes for musicians and creative performers, BUT each and every one of those states are different AND this is ignoring the problem of the 90 in 180 day rule in that any creative or support worker would if exceeding their allowance would need to apply for a “Schengen cat D visa” for EACH country to be worked in as the free allowance is useless if you cannot actually enter Schengen because you’ve run out of allowance.

Regarding Carnets their response is all smoke and mirrors. This is ONLY true for the actual equipment defined as “portable musical instrument” IE Guitar / Harp / Accordion / Drum Kit / Cello etc NOT so ancillary equipment ( effects pedals / loopers / computers etc ) must be carried across the Schengen border and be declared for temporary import / export which usually is an ATA Carnet ( it is possible to do this by complex declarations for each country but essentially the mechanism is by far and wide ATA Carnet virtually all musicians in particular are affected by this and would likely still need a carnet.

Lastly, they talk about dual registration for specialist hauliers, this doesn’t help small operators who cannot afford to setup ‘Bridgehead operations’ or ‘owner operators’ like orchestras that own their specialist vehicles.

These are typical of the copy and paste answers that we have been seeing nearly 2 years now, no matter whether the question comes from a musician, technician, an MP, a Lord or an open letter signed by 1135 supporters of the Carry on Touring Campaign in just three days. It isn’t good enough, we need real action, NOW, not in six months, a year, 5 years, NOW! The govt need to start proper negotiation with the EU to sort out these issues facing creative touring once and for all. We are losing tours and jobs now and it will not be long before creative touring becomes unsustainable and a truly world beating industry ceases to be!

With a new SoS for the @DCMS, we hope that @michelledonelan takes note of our response above and starts to deal with the issues in a manner that the previous incumbent was totally incapable of.

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