LONDON — EU countries must do more to ensure that the post-Brexit visa rules British touring artists have to comply with to perform in the EU are applied “as effectively and smoothly as possible,” the U.K.’s culture minister said.
The British government is facing calls from the country’s culture sector to reach a deal with the EU that removes the need for visas and work permits in order to tour the bloc.
But Caroline Dinenage ruled out this option, telling the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee on Tuesday that the government “will not be able to revisit” the parts of the Brexit negotiation “that didn’t work out first time round.” A visa waiver as proposed by the industry wouldn’t work, she added, because it would not solve the requirement for work permits.
Instead, London will use “all diplomatic tools at disposal” to ensure the new rules are applied “as effectively and smoothly as possible,” she said, adding: “That has not been the case in some of the member states.”
“It’s very, very early days. I would like to think that those are teething problems, but we need to make sure that does not perpetuate,” Dinenage added, singling out Spain as a “particularly difficult country.”
However, she admitted that no visa negotiations are currently taking place with any EU countries, although “there may be informal conversations happening.”
Dinenage explained that a working group set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) had to get to the bottom of these issues before starting bilateral negotiations with EU countries.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which led this part of the negotiations during Brexit trade talks, “was not able to negotiate the deal which would have worked for the creative industries to be able to do what they need to do,” partly because “the deal the EU was offering in exchange wouldn’t have worked,” Dinenage said.
British touring artists are already feeling the impact of the new rules on their income, Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said earlier in the hearing, criticizing the government for the situation. Since January 1, “I have been inundated with personal testimony from musicians as to the work that they have lost or are going to lose now in Europe as a result of the new visa and work permit arrangements.”
More than 100 members of the Equity union, including well-known actors like Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters, published an open letter Tuesday urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to secure visa-free EU travel for artists.
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