What now for performers in the UK and EU?

21 January 2021

As covered in our previous blog, the end of free movement will affect the ability of entertainers from the EU to work in the UK. But recent press has also surrounded the ability, or lack of it, of touring British citizen performers to work in the EU.

Whilst it is difficult to know the exact reasons for the failure of negotiations, as covered widely in the press there are apparent missed opportunities in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the Agreement) for the entertainment sector. It may have been the case that the UK was not willing to change its existing business visitor rule for so called Permitted Paid Engagements. This visitor category allows those coming to the UK to perform for a UK-based organisation for up to a month. Only certain categories of individuals qualify and there are restrictions on the types of activities that can be performed but these do include taking part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities and fashion modelling. The EU on the other hand may have requested that the UK expand that standard rule so as to allow for such paid work to be carried out for up to 90 days in a 180-day period in accordance with standard visitor rules to the EU.

Regardless of how this point was reached, there is no special provision for paid entertainers in the Agreement and so touring British citizen performers are lumbered with needing to apply for work permits for some EU member states in which they work.  Even during a pandemic and when travel is significantly down, the scale of the changes and the impact that these will have has provoked a sharp response from those who appear to lose out most - actors, musicians and other creative persons are amongst those who fare badly. The starkness of the situation has led UK performers to start a petition, currently with over 270,000 signatures.

On the positive side, the UK and EU appear to have started a dialogue on trying to resolve the issue and in any event across the board there is much to be finalised in terms of business visitor provisions of the Agreement. A UK/EU-wide visa for entertainers is crucial and hopefully it will materialise in due course and be ready for when the world craves gigs and performances like never before once the pandemic is over.

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