Updates from the Branch

  • With its foolhardy approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol and the issues surrounding it, the UK government is re-writing history and risking our future, writes European Movement CEO Anna Bird.

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  • The crisis in Afghanistan has shocked us all, and it is now critical that we do what we can to help those in need, writes European Movement UK CEO Anna Bird. 

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  • In Love With The Shape Of EU

    From Ed Sheeran and Brian May to Sir Elton John and Sting, more than a hundred of the biggest names in UK music this week joined forces to speak up and speak out against the government’s failure to secure post-Brexit visa-free arrangements for touring musicians that will enable them to perform throughout the EU.

    Breaking Down Barriers

    Under the Brexit deal, there will be more red tape for musicians as there will for everyone, whenever they transport goods into the EU, provide services or do both as in this case. There will be more paperwork, more searches of goods and more delays in crossing borders. These new tariffs and barriers for touring the EU will not only affect the performers and have immediate costs for the economy, but will also impact Britain’s cultural reputation and risk our position as a world leader in music, hurting us in the long term.

    Freedom (Of Movement)

    The issue of touring visas is only one of many hurdles when it comes to musicians and performers. The loss of freedom of movement is not just disastrous for UK citizens trying to earn a living in the EU, but for EU citizens working in the UK, now and in the future. For example, more than 20 per cent of musicians in some orchestras are from EU countries. Some of those EU citizens may not be able to secure settled status by the June 30 deadline, and musicians of the future will find it even harder to work in the UK.

    Don't Stop Me Now

    The problem of cabotage, meanwhile, will impact the ability of performers to cross multiple borders in a single tour. Under the new rules, hauliers carrying touring equipment around the EU will be limited to just two additional stops before returning to the UK, with the amount of time a British artist can spend in any of the 26 EU countries being determined by national law. Performers may require individual visas for each member state and could face £350 permits for individual instruments and other equipment. (The Common Travel Area means the rules for UK musicians travelling to Ireland are different).

    The Taxman's Taken All My Dough

    The limit on how many stops a touring lorry can make in the EU will be a major barrier to touring musicians who rely on UK-based hauliers to transport music equipment across the union for tours, most of which will exceed the total allowance of three stops. Adding to the costs and complications is tax. “Cultural Exemption”, which enables exemption from VAT on admission charges for cultural events in the EU, is vital for touring performers, and will now be lost. This will make tours of the EU by UK artists less viable in future.

    Money Money Money

    We will all suffer if these issues are not resolved. As Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, told the House of Lords European Union committee today, the music industry alone is worth £5.8 billion to the UK economy, with more than 100,000 jobs. The music industry is of greater net value than the fishing industry, which despite being only 0.02 per cent of the British economy received considerably more consideration during the Brexit negotiations.


    And it is not just fishing that has received more coverage over the last few years. Overall, the creative industries sector, worth £110 billion to the UK’s economy and the fastest-growing sector, employs 700,000 more people than the financial services sector, and is worth £8 billion more than the automotive sector.

    Danger Danger

    Established pop stars, up-and-coming young artists, orchestras, classical musicians (see here for some heart-breaking case studies), all will suffer under the new rules, their right to ply their trades and bring joy in peril. With many performers already struggling due to the ban on live music under coronavirus restrictions, these new post-Brexit costs and red tape may push some over the edge and out of business.

    Fight The Power

    We will continue to fight for them, and all affected sectors, to limit the damage done by Brexit and rebuild our relationships with the EU.

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  • So much for bringing back powers to Westminster. The government this week confirmed it will shut down a parliamentary committee that would have scrutinised the impact of Brexit.

    The Brexit committee has never been more important. Parliament must have a role in examining the Brexit deal and its impact, to call on ministers to explain its implications, and to challenge the government on its future plans for our relationship with the EU. That is why we are launching a petition calling on Jacob Rees-Mogg to reinstate the committeeclick here to sign.

    From the attempt to use the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 to the prorogation of parliament and threats to break international law – over the last five years ministers have continually affronted our democracy, avoided parliamentary scrutiny and shown an outrageous disregard for the rule of law.

    Sign your name to help parliament take back control and scrutinise Johnson’s deal!



  • The Government has been forced to listen to you and thousands of others and pull back from the brink of No Deal disaster. But let’s make no mistake, Johnson’s choice of Brexit is a bad deal for Britain.

    Our President, Lord Heseltine is right to say that this Brexit deal has no upsides to justify the fanfare with which it has been received.

    This bad deal for Britain leaves us in a worse position than we held as a member of the EUNow that more detail is available we already know that:

    • This is a bad deal for our economy. It largely ignores the service industry. This means that we are still in the dark about the long-term implications of Brexit for the service sector that makes up 80% of our economy. One thing is for certain, we have less market access for services.
    • This is a bad deal for UK businesses that trade in goods, which will now face more red tape, more bureaucracy and more blockages at our borders.
    • This is a bad deal for British food and farming, with customs checks creating extra hoops for our British farmers to jump through, just to make ends meet.
    • This is a bad deal for British people. We have lost access to programmes ranging from Erasmus to development funding. We can no longer travel freely in Europe and we have been denied a voice in European bodies that will make decisions that affect our daily lives.

    Boris Johnson has chosen to begin the next phase of the UK’s relationship with the EU as a weaker, poorer nation. This is the first trade deal in modern history to implement more barriers to trade.

    But far from being defeated by the Government’s disastrous deal, we need to pull together and fight for our future relationship with the EU. There is so much still to fight for, so much to do to protect our future. But right now, nothing is more important than standing up and saying loud and clear: Johnson’s Brexit deal is a bad deal for Britain!

    Anna Bird, CEO of the European Movement

    Please take just two minutes to make your voice heard and add your name to our urgent statement.