See EU Later: Is Brexit A Touring Castastrophe Or Just The Next Millennium Bug?

– Brexit
A Touring Castastrophe Or Just The Next Millennium Bug?

Let’s be honest: politics, to many of us, has become a charade, and perhaps nowhere has this become more apparent than in the U.K., which for years has been trying to work out a feasible plan for leaving the European Union. 
Several political leaders came, saw and miserably failed at implementing a form of Brexit that would answer more questions than it poses. Now that a no-deal Brexit has been decided, it is time to look at the implications for live touring in Europe.
Pollstar reached out to Dr. Dick Molenaar of All Arts Tax Advisers and Louise Smit, of trucking company Pieter Smit, both of whom have to be well-prepared for any potential ramifications Brexit will have on their respective businesses and touring across Europe once the grace period ends at the end of 2020.
It’s safe to say that the transport of goods like band equipment and stage production from the U.K. to Europe and vice versa will be pretty straightforward after Brexit. The freedom of movement of people, however, still needs to be worked out.
Dr. Dick Molenaar
– Dr. Dick Molenaar
Tax partner with All Arts Tax Advisers in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, adviser to many Dutch and international artists, sportsmen, companies and institutions, with main focus on music.

According to Molenaar, the visa situation still needs to be worked out prior to Dec. 31, which is the grace period in which both the U.K. and the EU need to work out a plan. 

“There have already been some publications from both sides for the no-deal scenario, which state that they unilaterally accept short-term visits without visa requirements,” Molenaar explained. “So I expect that there will come an agreement on that.”
Smit agrees, saying, “Chances are slim that a visa for U.K. nationals will be required.” 
It’s likely that U.K. nationals will be treated the same as nationals from around 60 countries not part of the EU, who are currently exempted from any visa obligations in Europe for a stay of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days per year.
There could, however, arise the need for some form of working permit for musicians and crew performing across Europe, although specific details in that vein were unclear at press time. 
The third option would be that the U.K. follows Norway, which is part of the European Economic Area, but without having an actual seat in Brussels.
“With this option, there would still be free movement of persons, as the U.K. will remain in the single market,” Smit explained.
The U.K. government’s most recent update on the visa situation for touring musicians, published Feb. 19, reads as follows: “We will not be creating a dedicated route for self-employed people. We recognise that there are several professions where there is a heavy reliance on freelance workers. 
“They will continue to be able to enter the U.K. under the innovator route and will in due course be able to benefit from the proposed unsponsored route. The U.K. already attracts world class artists, entertainers and musicians and we will continue to do so in the future. The U.K.’s existing rules permit artists, entertainers and musicians to perform at events and take part in competitions and auditions for up to six months. They can receive payment for appearances at certain festivals or for up to a month
for a specific engagement, without the need for formal sponsorship or a work visa.”
Louise Smit
– Louise Smit
The Master of Laws works in Sales at her father’s trucking company Pieter Smit

Both Molenaar and Smit agree that crossing the border with equipment will most likely require the filling out of paperwork, so-called carnets, which British promoters have been using forever in other markets.

As U.K. promoter/impresario Harvey Goldsmith told Pollstar in 2019, “We work with carnets now for touring equipment, so I don’t see why it would be any different. The minute you come out of the EEC, if you’re going into Switzerland, you have to have a carnet, if you go outside the EEC you have to have a carnet, go to America you have to have a carnet.” 
New paperwork will also be required for social security. According to Molenaar, “A1 [certificates] will not apply anymore after 2020.”
Smit said a no-deal Brexit will change the rules around road freight transport. “The European Commission set up guidelines for the negotiations on a new partnership with the U.K. In this document, the EC declared that in respect of road freight transport operations, UK road haulage should not keep the same rights and benefits that apply to EU road haulage. It depends per company if their services are marked as cabotage.”
The fact that the EU already has working agreements in place with so-called third countries should make people at least a tad confident that similar smooth solutions will be reached with the U.K.
Whatever the new touring reality in Europe will look like, the up-and-coming artists are most likely to suffer, as they are less likely to afford additional costs for permits, visas and carnets, or simply won’t have the manpower to deal with it.
Molenaar admits “it is more bureaucracy” but remains confident that “with good agents/managers the paperwork can be dealt with properly.”
“To be honest, I expect that in three years’ time we will look back and ask ourselves what we bothered about so much. It may become the same experience as the millennium bug in the year 2000.”