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UK artists granted visa-free short travel

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-06 09:40
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Musician Elton John poses in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards (Oscars) at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood, California on Feb 9, 2020. [Photo/IC]

The United Kingdom has announced a deal to allow British performers to tour in 19 European Union member countries without the need for a visa or work permit.

After Brexit in January, performers from the UK were told they would need permission to work in the places they intended to perform, and artists said it meant they would incur large fees.

The British Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement on Wednesday: "We want to ensure that when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, touring can resume and our world-leading creative and cultural artists can continue to travel widely, learning their craft, growing their audiences and showing the best of British creativity to the world."

The 19 countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.

The British government said talks are continuing with EU states not on the list, including Greece, Spain and Portugal, calling on them to align with UK rules that allow touring performers and staff to visit the UK for up to 3 months without a visa.

Cast member Ed Sheeran attends the UK premiere of "Yesterday" in London, Britain, June 18, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Lobbying celebrities

British musicians Elton John and Ed Sheeran have been among star names lobbying for the performance sector to be permitted to tour in Europe visa-free.

The restrictions had threatened a "generation of talent", John told The Observer newspaper earlier this year. He had said he was "livid about what the government did when Brexit happened".

"They made no provision for the entertainment business, and not just for musicians, actors and film directors, but for the crews, the dancers, the people who earn a living by going to Europe," he said.

The music industry remained critical of the government, following Wednesday's announcement. Featured Artists Coalition chief executive David Martin said that it has "failed to fix the real issue".

"It remains that the UK's music industry is in a far less advantageous position now than it was pre-January," he told music newspaper NME."Despite the spin, this statement represents an admission of failure.

Britain ended its EU membership on Jan 31, 2020, four and a half years after the country voted to leave the regional bloc. Free movement of people between Britain and the EU ended from Jan 1, 2021, after the end of the Brexit transition period.

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