Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden criticises the EU again, calling touring barriers “absurd”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has criticised the EU again over the row over visa-free touring for UK artists.

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Dowden previously blamed the EU for not permitting visa-free travel for UK artists in Europe. They subsequently hit back by denying claims that they had rejected the UK’s “ambitious proposals” and said that they had in fact offered the UK 90 days of visa-free travel – but the UK responded with their own proposal of just 30 days.

Despite widespread anger from artists and music industry bosses calling on the government to “take this seriously and fix it”, ministers rejected the idea recently – insisting that “taking back control” of the UK’s borders is their priority and that talks would only resume if Brussels “changes its mind”.


Now, Dowden has spoken in the House of Commons saying the current barriers are “absurd and self-defeating”, reports BBC News.

The EU flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London (Picture: Getty)

He went on to say the situation “could have been solved” before January 1 and blamed the EU yet again.

Conservative MP Clive Watling, urged the government to return to the negotiating table.

“I know that the EU walked away from our offer, but it must be brought back to the table,” he said.

“Touring performers will be left with a double whammy of an industry devastated by COVID and the loss of an entire continent as a venue. Will he please bang the table and get the EU back to talk on this?”


It comes a day after the Culture Secretary met with Elton John over the ongoing row.

The singer said he had “very positive” talks with Dowden about EU travel for UK musicians, but said visa-free touring is not currently “on the cards”.

He went on to say that he had spoken to Dowden for about 20 minutes and discussed ideas including the potential creation of a permanent site, backed by record labels, that could “help them with the logistics of touring in Europe”.

MPs recently agreed to debate the matter in Parliament on February 8.