The UK government has agreed to temporarily suspend post-Brexit rules for some music truckers following a number of tour cancellations and delays.
Earlier this month, White Lies were forced to cancel the opening night of their 2022 European tour in Paris due to “Brexit legislation” seeing their equipment held up for two days.
Since January of 2021, when the post-Brexit trade deal between the EU and the U.K. came into force, truckers in both regions are now subject to “cabotage rules”, which require haulers to return to the EU or the U.K. — wherever their business is based — after making just three stops in the other market (via World News ERA).
The move has resulted in long delays for artists and in some cases tour postponements with musicians unable to get their equipment, which is being held up in transit through the rules due to huge backlogs.
The new relaxation of rules allows some of the UKs biggest trucking firms to now work and travel freely across Europe by temporarily switching their vehicles from an EU operator’s license to a UK one for the home leg of a tour.
Speaking to Billboard, a government spokesperson said: “This is a temporary exceptional measure which will ensure that our world-leading creative and cultural artists can continue to tour widely.”
However, the government still has no long-term plan in place beyond this temporary measure. It also comes with significant caveats – including the fact that it only applies to UK based trucking firms who also have EU registered fleets. Those who don’t will still suffer as a result of the rules.
Likewise, trucking firms with EU bases won’t benefit from the relaxations either. They are only permitted three stops in the UK before returning home to the EU once more.
Speaking to NME, Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive of the Music Managers Forum, representing managers across the UK, said White Lies recent situation was “a nightmare”, but added that they weren’t alone.
“We keep hearing strange things from bands, such as being told that they’re not allowed a passenger ticket on a splitter van and that they have to buy a freight ticket instead – which is three times the price,” Coldrick recently told NME. “Musicians have also been told that if they’re carrying portable instruments then they’d be OK without a carnet, and then we heard from the Musicians’ Union that one of their members had been fined £150 at the French border for not having a carnet.”
“It’s very uncertain and really tricky. We’re going to have to learn how it’s all applied on the ground.”
Coldrick argued that “a lot of what’s been going on has got nothing to do with P&O”, and was down to unnecessary Brexit-related bureaucracy. “We’ve also heard from people filling out all of their paperwork correctly and sending their merch out to Germany for a tour to go on sale, but then it randomly getting stopped at Rotterdam and not getting to its destination until the tour dates have ended,” she said. “They can’t sell it, so that’s a huge loss of money.”
Touring aside, UK independent artists and labels are also experiencing the devastatingly “outrageous” impact and “spiralling costs” of sending music products and merchandise to Europe in the wake of Brexit – leading to more huge losses of income.
Meanwhile, the charity Help Musicians are helping those artists whose touring plans and being affected by “the excessive red tape of the Brexit deal”. You can find out more about their work and funding to help artists affected by Brexit here.