Culture secretary

Culture Secretary’s claims about visa-free tours to 17 EU countries slammed as ‘misleading’

New claims by UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden that artists will be able to tour without a visa in 17 of the 27 European Union countries after Brexit have been slammed as ‘misleading’ by a leading campaign group .

After more than 300 figures in the arts industry signed an open letter last month urging the government to act on a ‘lack of progress’ on the post-Brexit touring crisis, Dowden shared today (May 14 ) new information on how things will work when the acts are back on mainland roads.

Speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Dowden revealed he had spoken to all EU member states about the issue since the new rules came into effect in January , and said he understands “some paid touring activities” will be possible. in 17 of the 27 EU countries. He added that the image now looks “much more positive” than he initially thought.

In response to the claims, Tim Brennan, head of the Carry On Touring campaign, which is hosting a UK-EU summit called ‘Day Of Action’ next week, shared a statement questioning the legitimacy of Dowden’s claims. .

“Oliver Dowden’s claim that there is free access to 17 out of 27 EU countries is misleading,” read the statement – which you can read in full below.

“There are differentiated access rules and a work permit requirement beyond benefits in these countries in terms of duration – which range from 7 days a year to 90 days in Germany and France.

“The government needs to recognize the very difficult landscape we have to navigate – even in countries with some allocation.”

The message added: “Carry On Touring asks Oliver Dowden to give creative touring professionals urgent clarity and certainty to move quickly towards resolution.

“Our request for a cultural passport (a VISA exemption agreement and a Schengen-wide work permit with free access) remains unchanged.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal, which passed last December, failed to secure visa-free travel for British artists and their crew, as well as work permits abroad. European scale. This has raised fears that artists will face huge costs for future live tours on the continent, which could prevent emerging and developing artists from being able to afford it.

Discussing his “extensive program of engagement with EU member states”, Dowden added in his speech: “We have engaged with every member state and behind that we have a much clearer picture. the extent of the restrictions and this varies enormously between countries.

“And I can tell you that our current analysis is that (in) at least 17 of the 27 Member States, certain paid tourism activities are possible without the need for visas or work permits. So it’s a much more positive image than what initially seemed to be the case.

“The next thing we do is make sure we communicate this effectively so that there is a better understanding of how people can spin in these countries anyway without needing further changes.”


In March, Boris Johnson pledged to tackle the work permit issue which could impact musicians and crew on tour in the UK post-Brexit.

Talk to NME on the impact of the situation on them in February, artists including Nova Twins said it would make planning future European tours “a nightmare” – and echoed industry fears that the work of the crew members could be lost to the EU.