UK Music boss welcomes EU Brexit trade deal but says it leaves “many questions” for music industry

The government reached an agreement with the EU yesterday (December 24), days before the UK fully leaves the union

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has responded to the post-Brexit trade deal announced yesterday (December 24).

The UK and the EU came to the agreement just one week before the nations are set to fully leave the union following 2016’s referendum.

The deal includes points on travel for UK citizens within the EU – a key concern for touring artists – as well as imports and exports, security, manufacturing, energy and more.

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In a statement, Njoku-Goodwin said the deal was “welcome and has removed some of the uncertainty facing the music industry”, but left “many questions” for the field, including “what it means for touring”.

“The Prime Minister has promised there will be no non-tariff barriers, so it is vital that Government delivers on this promise and ensures there are no barriers to British musicians working and touring through Europe,” he continued. “We will be seeking urgent reassurances on this from Government.

The exec also said UK Music were “eager to take advantages of the opportunities this deal will bring” and noted that Boris Johnson’s proposal to “set new frameworks for the sectors in which the UK leads the world” was “particularly exciting”.

Jonathan Higgs, Jeremy Pritchard and Alex Robertshaw of Everything Everything perform at The Ritz, Manchester on October 11, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)
Jonathan Higgs, Jeremy Pritchard and Alex Robertshaw of Everything Everything perform at The Ritz, Manchester on October 11, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

“The UK music industry is a key national asset that contributes billions of pounds to the economy, supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, and has helped Britain punch above its weight internationally for decades,” he added. “The music industry can play an important role in Britain’s global success over the coming years, and we hope this agreement can be a solid foundation for that.”

Speaking specifically about overseas touring, Njoku-Goodwin said the government needed to ensure the UK’s workforce could move freely around the EU, particularly in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While the deal states UK citizens will be able to visit the EU without a visa for up to 90 days, it is currently unclear what regulations will be in place for touring artists.

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“There is a real risk that British musicians will not be able to bear the cost of extra bureaucracy and delays which would put some tours at risk,” he said. “If musicians and creators from overseas face barriers and costs getting into the UK, audiences here could miss out on seeing some of their favourite acts.”

On the subject of exports, the UK Music boss said the agreements presented “a chance to develop our exports” and “strike exciting partnerships to grow UK music in overseas markets”. However, he added that supporting and growing the UK’s music industry was “now more important than ever following our departure from the EU”.

He also urged the government to use the trade deal as an opportunity to “build the strongest copyright framework in the world” and “uphold strong copyright protection in all future trade agreements”. If Johnson and his administration did, Njoku-Goodwin said the UK could “become a cultural hub and act as the global destination to perform, record and do business”. It would also help boost the £5.8billion the UK music industry brought to the economy last year.

The UK will officially be fully separated from the EU on January 1, 2021. The four nations left the EU on January 31, 2020, entering into a transition period that saw Johnson continuing negotiations with the union for the newly-agreed deal.

If the Prime Minister had failed to come to an agreement with the EU, the UK would have been left with a No Deal Brexit – something industry figures said earlier this year would be potentially “catastrophic” for the UK music industry.

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