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UK Music responds to government’s Brexit talks ‘negotiating mandate’

By | Published on Friday 28 February 2020


Music industry lobbying group UK Music has responded to the ‘negotiating mandates’ that have been published by both the UK and the European Union ahead of the real Brexit negotiations, which begin on Monday.

The UK government and its bullshitter in chief ‘Boris’ Johnson continue to pretend that Brexit has “now been done” – after the UK left the EU at the end of January. Actually, all the really tricky negotiations regarding the UK’s future relationship with the rest of the European Union are still to be done.

Working out what the UK and EU’s future trading, logistical and political relationships will look like would be a massive task whatever. However, the pressure is really on because Johnson has randomly picked the end of this year as a deadline for everything to be in place. He also wants a ‘broad outline’ of a deal to be confirmed by June.

Johnson’s threat remains that, if a deal cannot be done on that timeline, the UK will happily walk away from the negotiating table with no deal in place. Though that remains something of a hollow threat given that, while it’s entirely possible to have no deal, it’s not possible to have no future relationship. And while Johnson and his clique continue to insist that World Trade Organisation agreements can fill the gap, most experts argue that that would result in, at best, a mild clusterfuck.

Speaking for the music industry yesterday, acting UK Music boss Tom Kiehl said that he endorsed the UK government’s primary aim of securing a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, but warned of the likely negative consequences if negotiations fail and Johnson opts for the no deal option.

“UK Music fully supports the need to secure a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and EU”, Kiehl said. “Market access is vital. We need to avoid a cliff-edge at the beginning of next year which could spell disaster for music”.

On the specifics of the upcoming negotiations, Kiehl honed in on two key issues of particular concern for the music industry: the copyright framework and the free movement of touring musicians around Europe.

“It is welcome that both the UK government and European Union are prioritising the need to secure high standards of protection for intellectual property rights as part of the new relationship”, he added. “A strong copyright regime is crucial for our £5.2 billion music industry”.

Meanwhile, on the particularly pressing issue of touring, he went on: “The UK’s attempts to seek clarity on allowable activities for short-term business visits should include live touring across the EU. We need certainty as to how artists, musicians and crews can go about international concerts and festivals across the EU from 2021 without administrative and financial burdens”.

All sectors will now be watching closely how the real Brexit talks work out. Given that it took three years of talks to agree the deal to allow the talks to agree the deal to begin – and with Johnson’s made up deadline thrown in for good measure – it will be quite an achievement if any deal of substance can be done on these timescales. Which makes the chance of every different sector having their specific concerns properly addressed quite slim.

Good times, everybody!