Lords report calls for reciprocal visas for culture sector after Brexit

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 26.07.2018
Sector will struggle to attract skilled workers if agreements not in place, it warns
The UK's culture sector will struggle to attract skilled workers if reciprocal agreements for the movement of people between the EU and the UK are not in place after Brexit, a House of Lords report has warned.

Published today by the Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, the Brexit: Movement of People in the Cultural Sector report warns that a lack of such agreements "would be to the detriment of the sector", particularly because existing visa rules require a minimum salary in excess of what many cultural organisations can offer.   

The report highlights that the ability of people to move between the UK and other European countries is integral to the business model of many cultural organisations, which rely on the services of consultants and freelancers working on a project basis.

The committee is urging the government to consider two visa options for EU culture sector professionals, which it hopes would be reciprocated for UK citizens in Europe: extending permitted paid-engagement and permit-free festival arrangements; and offering a multi-country, multi-entry, short-term "touring visa".

The report reflects feedback provided to the government by organisations such as the Museums Association, which warned in a 2016 Brexit consultation that the museum sector would be damaged by strict visa requirements like the minimum salary threshold.

The chairman of the Lords committee, Michael Hastings Jay, said: "If the government is to achieve its wish to establish an immigration system that meets the needs of the post-Brexit economy, the UK's negotiators will need to be flexible. This means recognising that any restrictions on EU citizens wishing to enter the UK to work may be matched by reciprocal restrictions on UK workers in the EU."

The government's recent white paper on its proposed future relationship with the EU acknowledged that "the UK and the EU will… need provisions that allow for mobility" to facilitate the proposed "cooperative accord" with the EU on culture and education.

The Lords report called on the government to "urgently provide more detail on this proposal".

The report comes after Labour's shadow culture secretary, Tom Watson, wrote to prime minister Theresa May last week calling on her to give the new culture secretary Jeremy Wright a seat on the cabinet's Brexit subcommittee.

He wrote: "It is my hope, that by adding the new secretary of state, the views of these industries will be heard at the highest levels of government."

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