‘Big victory’ Brexit boost as Spain scraps visa requirement for musicians on tour
The announcement means UK musicians and their crew will no longer need visas for engagements of less than 90 days – a change in policy that came after months of lobbying from trade groups on both sides. Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, UK Music chief executive, told PA: “The lifting of visa restrictions by the Spanish government is a hugely welcome move. “It marks a big victory for all our members and reflects all the effort we have put in trying to get rid of these barriers.”
However, reminding people of the logistical problems across Europe, he said: “However, it is important to remember that major issues still remain, particularly cabotage [the transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a foreign operator], which makes many tours impossible.”
The music boss said that extra pressure needs to be placed on the Government to continue to relieve bureaucracy.
He said: “We will continue to press the case with the Government here and with EU nations to remove all the costly and bureaucratic restrictions that remain when it comes to touring the EU.”
Discussing damage being done to the music industry, Mr Njoku-Goodwin said: “It is vital for our economy and exports that musicians and crew can tour freely, grow their fanbase and share the very best of British music across Europe and the rest of the world.”
During the Brexit negotiations, the UK Government faced accusations that it had treated cultural industries as an afterthought by failing to negotiate visa-free travel and Europe-wide work permits for musicians and crew.
High profile musicians have been campaigning to place further pressure on the Government to assist the industry.
Sir Elton John has claimed requests to meet with Boris Johnson regarding Brexit and touring visas for musicians have so far been ignored.
Addressing the topic on a recent episode of his Apple Music 1 radio show Rocket Hour, Sir Elton said: “What has happened is that it’s impossible for young artists financially to pay for visas and negotiate their way through all of the red tape that’s necessary for going to Europe.”
The mega-star added: “So I’m on the warpath to try and get this sorted out. I’ve requested a meeting with Boris Johnson. I’ve yet to hear back from him”.
More than 50 acts, including Mumford & Sons, Idris Elba, Massive Attack and Fatboy Slim had also previously warned of an impending “crisis” over post-Brexit touring in the EU as part of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign.
European festival promoters have previously said they are likely to book fewer UK acts as a result of the cost of visas, which would deal a huge blow for crews still reeling from the pandemic’s impact on the industry
However, the news that some of the restrictions have been lifted has given hope to industry bosses.
Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, said the decision was “really great news”.
She added: “We’ve been working closely with the Spanish government to make touring easier – and they’ve just confirmed that musicians no longer need visas to go on short-term tours.
Twenty-one member states now offer visa and permit-free routes for touring performers. Six more to go.”