Over the weekend an EU source accused the UK of rejecting a “standard” proposal which would have exempted the artists from needing to get a work permit. Performers have expressed outrage they have will have to apply for visas and have said it could lead to the cancellation of international tours.
An EU source close to the negotiations told the Independent: “It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that work visas are not required for musicians.
“We tried to include it, but the UK said no.”
They added the Prime Minister refused the deal because he “said they were ending free moment”.
But this afternoon Downing Street said blame for the decision lay purely at the feet of Brussels.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said UK negotiators had tabled their own proposals for visa-free access which the EU refused to accept.
He said: “The EU offer fell short of our proposals.
“We pushed for an ambitious agreement with the EU on temporary movement for business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected.”
Those looking to perform on the continent will now be subject to the rules of each individual member state, who can decide their own entry requirements for musicians looking to perform.
Industry figures have expressed outrage at the row, with figures blaming the UK following the EU’s off-the-record briefing.
Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union (MU), said: “With the British music business having been devastated by Covid-19 and with no end in sight to the black hole of cancelled concerts, tours, festivals and regular gigs that is the very bedrock of our world-class industry, the news, if true, that our own elected representatives chose to turn down such an offer is nigh-on unbelievable.
“Ever since the result of the referendum in 2016, the MU has campaigned and lobbied for a Musicians’ Passport that would allow our members and their support crew to make a successful living across Europe.”
Charlatans singer Tim Burgess said it was “the great rock n roll swindle” in a tweet.
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He added: “We need to get answers to this and not let them sweep it under the carpet – they shouldn’t be let off the hook for treating artists with such contempt.”
A petition demanding the issue be relooked at by the UK and EU has been launched by the MU.
It demands the creation of musicians’ passports that last ammonium of two years and cover all performers and technical crews.
So far more than 100,000 people have signed the petition with the campaign being supported by heavy-weight figures across the industry.
Stars including One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson, former Boyzone member Ronan Keating and singer-songwriter Laura Marling have encouraged their fans to support the campaign.
Last week, Cabinet Office minister Lord True said talks with Brussels over visa-free travel for artists were “unlikely” to restart in the near future.