Restrictions imposed on UK-based musicians touring in the EU after Brexit are to be eased.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced this month a new dual registration system that will make it easier for hauliers to move equipment from the UK to the EU. This will only apply to drivers with a fixed base in the UK and in a country outside of the UK.
Previously, UK-EU regulations permitted hauliers to just three EU stops per tour, which placed tight limits on bands playing live in EU nations. But now, from late summer, hauliers will be able to move freely with unlimited stops for up to six months per year.
The Evening Standard reports that Shapps said: “British talent has long been at the heart of global performing arts and our specialist haulage sector is critical to the success of their tours.
“It is unacceptable that, because of EU bureaucracy, the operations of our specialist haulage sector on which our artists rely have been put at risk, impacting the livelihoods of touring artists and sportspeople.
“Dual registration helps put this right and means that touring events can take place seamlessly across Great Britain, the EU and beyond, keeping our incredible cultural sector thriving for years to come.”
UK Music welcomed the rule change, telling BBC News that it was “important progress for UK musicians and crew looking to tour the EU”.
However, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of the music industry body, said that issues around the transport of goods or passengers remain.
Wob Roberts, touring manager for acts including Duran Duran and Sam Smith, added that the new regulations can help bigger artists, but smaller artists and production companies who can’t afford a European hub will face the same problem.
“This will help UK-based tours keep going. But the problem is the smaller operations that couldn’t afford to set up a European arm are still going to be facing the same issues,” he said.
In January, Ross Patel, a manager from Whole Entertainment who was in the process of navigate future EU tours for his acts Elder Island and Billy Lockett, called for “support for the industry at large”.
He told NME: “It is depressingly apparent that the government will not act until we as an industry raise the alarm on these issues. What is reassuring is that we have now been able to demonstrate that when we do act, we can affect positive change. This should be a powerful motivator and a clear signal to the government that we will not be sleeping on these issues.”
Drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown told NME that the situation was “incredibly frustrating”.
“Prior to Brexit, this kind of tailback was never an issue,” Lawrence-Browne said. “There’s now a huge amount of paperwork for bands to deal with if they want to get themselves into Europe. Although we had everything fully in order with our carnets stamped and everything good to go, we still found ourselves in a situation where – because of Brexit – there are these inhumane motorway queues.
“When you have to pull a show for something as irritating as your truck not being able to get to where it needs to be through no fault of your own, that’s money that we’ve lost as a band pretty directly through Brexit fuck-ups and essentially a lack of government control over what’s happening in Dover.”
The new dual registration system, which seeks to limit adverse situations like those experienced by White Lies, will only apply to Great Britain. Northern Ireland already has an operator licensing system in place.