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After the UK exit from the EU Customs Union and the single market for services, performing artists can no longer tour and work freely across the EU and the UK. The lack of specific provisions in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) means that UK performers have to comply with regulations in each of the 27 EU Member States, which often differ from each other. For example, a UK musician would need to apply for a work permit in order to perform in Croatia, but this would not be necessary in France if they take part in a cultural event and the stay is shorter than 90 days.

Transport of equipment for tours, such as musical instruments, props, stage lighting, or merchandise, has to comply with the customs regulations set out in the TCA. Moving such goods may be subject to restrictions on road haulage movements introduced by the agreement.

This means additional administrative requirements and costs.

Clarified visa and work permit arrangements 

Following a request from the sector, the UK Government has clarified the immigration and work permit rules with individual EU Member States. It has agreed some new easements for touring, for example with Spain. Currently 24 out of 27 EU Member States have some time limited visa- and work permit-free routes for touring.

While EU artists must also comply with new administrative requirements in the UK, in practice the touring arrangements have an asymmetric effect, with UK touring artists facing more difficulties. This is not least because of a single set of UK immigration rules versus 27 sets of immigration and work permit regulations in the EU. Complying with road haulage restrictions within the smaller UK market may be easier while UK performers touring the EU may need to hire EU-registered vehicles.

Calls for a ‘cultural exemption’

To address the difficulties, UK industry representatives are calling for an EU-wide visa waiver for creative industries or a ‘cultural exemption’ from the TCA. The European Commission’s position is that there’s no prospect of changing the TCA in the near future.

The Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

This briefing was prepared for a breakout session at the second meeting of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA), held in the UK Parliament on 7-8 November 2022. The PPA was established under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and includes members of the UK Parliament (MPs and Peers) and Members of the European Parliament.

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