Last week there was a briefing to the EU “Delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly”.
You can watch the briefing here:
The relevant conversation starts at 1:01:30, but the rest is quite interesting too.
But to summarise and to save you the pain of watching this for yourself, I’ll list the bits that are relevant to this blog.
1/. Stefan Fuehring - the Head of Unit at the Commission for the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. In charge of overseeing the EU-UK trade deal and unresolved cooperation issues. Former member of Barnier’s taskforce.
2/. Naomi Pohl - General Secretary, Musicians Union.
Fuehring highlighted three areas of touring difficultly.
1) Goods (i.e. instruments, lighting, equipment)
- As they are imported into EU customs area, EU customs rules apply.
- ‘Importer’ must give and sign guarantees that the goods won’t be circulated within the EU but will be ‘re-exported’ to the country of origin by a certain time.
In other words if you want to take your equipment into the EU you’ll need a Carnet, unless they portable instruments that you can carry through the customs area.
- Touring professionals bring equipment with them in lorries, so they need to engage with road haulage rules.
- However, road haulage operators from a third country are not allowed to perform service in an EU state, with some exemptions…
- A third country laden lorry can go into the EU to carry out 2 journeys.
- [Road haulage operators of the United Kingdom shall be limited to a maximum of two journeys within the territory of the Union under paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 before returning to the territory of the United Kingdom - source]
- There is a visa exemption for British citizens, but it is limited to 90 days in 180 days.
This has created problems, but they are the automatic consequence of the UK leaving the EU free trade area, the internal market for goods, the customs area, and the internal market for services.
It is a binary situation—you are either in or out, there is no halfway house
- Musicians should choose a European transport company.
- This is an asymmetry created by Brexit, the difficulties are for the UK going into the EU.
- The haulage rules are fine for EU touring professionals as Britain is small.
- There is no prospect for any changes to the TCA.
On haulage rules…
- After 3 stops, equipment must be transferred to an EU based vehicle, very problematic for orchestras who traditionally have their own trucks.
- Merchandise need export declarations for all shipments into the EU above €1,000.
- This is crippling for smaller musicians and bands who are really struggling and may need merchandise sales to make tour economically worthwhile.
Highlighted issue with Carnets.
Colm Markey MEP (Ireland) and Helmut Scholz MEP (Germany)
Both asked about possibilities of exemptions, especially for allowing an exemption for multiple stops on Tour.
Inmaculada Rodriguez Pinero MEP (Spain)
Asked whether culture and music was taken into account during withdrawal negotiations, including the cultural impact on citizens.
Asked about the position of EU touring professionals touring the UK
We are not limiting access - the UK decided to leave the EU.
Road haulage rules on 3 stops is very generous and was a difficult compromise to allow this.
Argued against the idea that smaller acts are worse affected, saying this is a multi billion pound industry and the industry must adapt (?)
Said that touring professionals were discussed in negotiations, but the UK made proposals that weren’t acceptable. Additionally, it was a UK redline that there should be no discussions on a visa waiver.
Appreciates the asymmetry of Brexit
But will not stop making this argument. Another option may be for the UK to make bi-lateral arrangements with EU member states.
Has the situation improved? Over time we have more clarity - and able to provide better advice to musicians and crew.
It doesn’t make for great reading, whilst the MEPs can see that there are very serious issues and indeed are suggesting ways of solving them, Fuehring, who is in charge of the TCA and the unresolved cooperation issues, clearly is really not very interested in our plight.
But, it has to be said that if you had gone through the painful negotiations on the TCA that even Lord Frost himself has described as too purist you can understand Fuehring's frustration.
In general I believe that the majority of the EU recognise the issues both UK and EU artists, musicians and crew are facing and want to find a solution as much as we do.
We are truly world leading when it comes to our creative industries, but the long-term survival of our sector is at a very real threat, unless we can get these issues resolved very quickly, we are going to see a dramatic change in how music in the UK and specifically touring is funded.
In Recent reports estimate that bookings of UK acts at European festivals have fallen by as much as 45%, that’s a lot of lost revenue to the artist and musicians but also to their technical staff, their record label, management, etc etc. Not to mention the local economies that lose out when the fans don’t show up.
It’s also been brought to our attention that artist managers and tour managers are now actively seeking musicians and crew that hold EU passports, thus avoiding the hassle involved with the 90/180 days issue.
Those that are UK passport holders only are simply being turned down or not offered the roles in the first place.
When CarryOnTouring presented our evidence to the Parliamentarians in the House of Lords last Tuesday, https://bit.ly/HOL-Evidence you could see clearly that they are very concerned about our futures and the future of culture in general.
One of our witnesses Perry (guitarist with Pendulum) read out an open letter from Steve Barney, Anastacia’s drummer for the past 12 years. In the letter which has now gone viral with over a million impressions on twitter, Steve tells how he has lost an EU tour with Anastacia because he doesn’t have enough time left in his 90/180 days access to the Schengen area.
You can read Steve’s letter here.
The letter and the reactions to it clearly show that we must find rapid solutions to the issues we face.
If musicians can’t tour, they can’t make money from the ticket sales, the merch sales etc, they are already suffering with the appalling rates that are generated from music streaming, without the touring earnings, many are simply giving up. Many are just not bothering to tour the EU because of the red tape which is making unviable.
But the area of greatest concern for me is that we risk the younger talent not bothering, they are already struggling to find places to play as we have lost so many grassroots venues during Covid and many more will simply be shutting up shop due to the cost of energy and lack of staff in the hospitality industry.
Young people are already suffering from a lack of investment in youth services, if we take away the prospect of making something happen for them within music, then as a society we will all suffer.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, it is still possible to tour, but you must play by the rules until we can get a proper solution.
What can you do to help the Creative Industries?
You can write to your MP, you can find out who your MP is and there contact details here:
Write to them explaining why they need to raise the question of EU touring in Parliament.
You can download our stock letter here: https://bit.ly/Write_to_your_MP in MS Word format.
You can sign up to CarryOnTouring’s newsletter, we don’t bombard you with spam, we just report the stuff you need to know about.
You can follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/CarryonTouring_
Or me specifically: https://twitter.com/TimmoWorldWide
You can join our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/carryontouring
You can donate to our campaign to help us keep running the website and lobby government.
Carry On Touring take hard hitting real life evidence to the House of Lords
But, what can Musicians and Artists do to help resolve the situation, well as well as all of the above, start talking to your friends and colleagues, we need your support to help solve the crisis. Get them to follow us, at the very least get the conversation going. Start talking to your fans, remember this isn’t about politics, it isn’t about if you voted leave or remain, it’s not about rejoining the EU, it’s about finding a workable solution to help us get back on the road.
Former European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding has proposed the adoption of a cultural passport for the Creative Industries. While there was no immediate response to this proposal from the UK Government, momentum is now building in support of this idea.
The industry has been calling for a Cultural Passport for a long time. And it certainly looks like the EU want it too.
Never forget that there are also lots of EU based Artists and musicians that want to tour the UK, they rely on our market to boost their kudos, it’s seen as a steppingstone for building a reputation to take them to markets further afield like the US, Far East and Australia.
There are also lots of EU based fans that regularly travel to the UK to watch their favourite acts, and in doing so help support bars, restaurants, hotels and local economies up and down the country.
Let’s get those fans writing to their own governments and raising the issues, if we can get that to happen, we can start getting real pressure on the EU to work something out.
Let’s not forget it’s a two-way street, any solution has to be 100% reciprocal, or its simply won’t get done.
Lastly I get a lot of comments telling me that this is the UK government’s issue, as a result of Brexit, well whilst the UK did vote to leave the EU, it was a 52:48 ratio. 16.5 million voted to remain. Yes it is the UK's problem after all we left the EU, but it affects artists musicians and crew and all creative professionals on both sides of the channel.