FEU statement on no deal for creative industries

18 January 2021

The Federation of Entertainment Unions have issued a joint statement on the failure to agree travel rights for UK artists.

The Federation of Entertainment Unions is deeply disturbed to hear that proposals made during the Brexit negotiations which would have offered special travel rights for musicians, journalists and artists, were turned down, with both sides seemingly proposing solutions that were rejected by the other negotiating team.

The creative industries are one of the fast-growing parts of the economy worth more than £111bn to the UK. The arts and media do not exist within borders and the failure of the government and the EU to come to an agreement on this matter will severely hamper the ability of creatives to continue to carry out business and collaboration with EU states.

The creative industries have been devastated by the pandemic and the failure to agree a deal that would have played an important role in revitalising the arts is a major blow. As it stands, touring in EU states for UK artists will require costly administration and time-consuming bureaucracy. Likewise, media organisations need to be fleet when following news and investigative stories and not bogged down with the need for visas and other bureaucracy.

The FEU asks the UK government to review this arrangement – signs from Michel Barnier appear to suggest the door is still open.

The FEU is also calling for the government to reverse its decision to scrap its £12m funding of England’s Union Learning Fund which supports more 200,000 learners in workplaces across England and importantly offers one of the very few opportunities for freelances to have access to free training, professional development and acquire business skills.

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said:

“The Prime Minister must urgently work with his counterparts in the EU and accept their offer of a mutually beneficial cultural work permit and carnet exception.

“As of 1 January, UK artists must apply for multiple permits before they can embark on a European tour, yet artists from other non-EU countries need only apply for one. It is unbelievable that the government has managed to negotiate a situation that is not only worse than the UK’s pre-Brexit rights, but even manages to be worse than the travel rights enjoyed by a host of other non-EU countries.

“UK culture entertains millions, both at home and abroad. If the government is serious about Global Britain, the last thing it should be doing is hampering UK creative access to the EU.”


The Federation of Entertainment Unions represents more than 100,000 writers, journalists, musicians and actors.

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