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Lords call for a new Brexit mobility agreement to save the UK’s creative industries

Today, peers in the House of Lords published a report that said the creative industries need a new agreement to resolve issues with mobility arrangements and moving goods between the UK and EU.

The EU Services Sub-Committee report, titled Beyond Brexit: trade in services, used the ISM’s research as part of its examination of the future UK-EU relationship on trade in services. It adopted many of our recommendations in its section on the creative industries, noting that:

‘we agree with the Incorporated Society of Musicians that the UK should enter “bilateral discussions with individual EU Member States that do not currently offer cultural exemptions for work permits.’

The report also suggested the sector needs new funding to replace the EU’s Creative Europe programme as well as the maintenance of high standards of protection for intellectual property.

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said:

‘I am delighted that this report has made a clear recommendation that the UK’s creative industries need a new agreement between the UK and EU to resolve issues with mobility arrangements. With musicians unable to work for most of the past year and now finding it virtually impossible to plan work in Europe, we urgently need the Government to take the lead and sort this mess out.

‘We call on Government to enter into talks with the EU Commission on a visa waiver agreement as well as undertaking bilateral negotiations with key EU states on work permits. Musicians are losing work now. The red tape mountain they are facing needs to be addressed and only the Government can do this.‘

About the report

Today’s report praised the success of the creative industries and noted the challenges that have been created by Brexit and the COVID pandemic.

Their recommendations included:

• ‘We urge the Government to negotiate, as a matter of urgency, a bilateral and reciprocal agreement to make mobility arrangements for touring performers, creative teams and crews.’

• ‘The Government should also seek to negotiate an agreement to resolve the barriers to the movement of goods used in cultural and sporting events that are imported on a temporary basis.’

• ‘Now that the UK has left the EU’s Creative Europe programme, the Government should ensure that funding continues to be allocated to the creative industries.’

• ‘Keeping up with new technologies may lead to future divergence between the UK and EU intellectual property legislative frameworks. As in many other areas, managing this divergence will require an open and productive regulatory dialogue, both to provide assurance to businesses and to ensure that high standards of protection are maintained.’

Save touring

The ISM and the MU have been holding high-level meetings with politicians and civil servants on this issue. Together, we are calling on the Government to:

  • Negotiate a bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU that is separate to the trade deal exempting touring performers, creative teams and crews from needing to obtain a visa when seeking paid work.
  • Prioritise bilateral discussions with individual EU Member States that do not offer cultural exemptions for work permits, such as Spain, Italy, and Portugal, as well as those which are financially the most important to UK performers.
  • Publish guidance to help the performing arts sector navigate the different requirements for each European country. The ISM has already compiled a comprehensive overview of these rules, but now we need authoritative Government advice to provide reassurance across the touring supply chain.