The UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement should be revised to protect UK jobs and ensure that the nation’s cultural expertise can continue to be delivered to Europe and beyond, according to business group Logistics UK.
Speaking after submitting the industry’s asks to Lord David Frost, the government’s new Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, David Wells, Chief Executive of Logistics UK, explained that those overlooked in the agreement signed with the EU are not limited to the performers who have raised their issues with government in the past few weeks:
“The UK has a global reputation for the delivery of tours for the performing arts, conferences and exhibitions, as well as for tv and film production,” he explains. “In addition to the specialised transport companies operating to support these tours, which represent a combined fleet of 700 to 800 heavy goods vehicles, there are approximately 1,000 full time jobs in the supply industries that rely on a vibrant British cultural sector continuing to operate as it does at present. In addition, there are approximately 6,000 freelancers nationwide working in the live music industry alone.
“Many of our cultural icons cut their teeth touring Europe, from musicians to dancers, actors and comedians, and the exposure which these tours give to the performing arts and exhibitions draws people to the UK, and raises our impact on the world stage, as well as providing employment for these logistics experts and an army of other specialist support staff which deliver tours and other European performances.
“The current Trade and Co-operation Agreement reached with the EU, which allows for only two journeys within the EU, is incompatible with all business models where the load – whether stage sets and instruments, broadcasting, tv and film equipment, artworks or exhibition stands – needs to be moved to different successive locations across Europe. And it’s not just the logistics businesses and artists whose jobs are at risk. It’s also about the thousands of highly specialist support staff like engineers, technicians, producers, organisers, make-up artists, catering and other support crews that will be lost forever from the UK too.
“Does the government really intend to drive UK expertise, and the thousands of jobs supported by the creative sectors, into the EU to enable them to continue operating effectively? The current situation leaves logistics businesses no option but to move into the European Union so they can continue to operate. This will jeopardise not just jobs within the UK, but the country’s reputation and collateral for world-leading expertise in the creative arts.”
As Mr Wells concludes, Logistics UK continues to actively engage with DCMS and DfT to identify short term easements which can provide relief for those looking to continue trading, the longer-term solution would appear to be renegotiation with the EU. “I have urged Mr Frost not to give up on further negotiations, as these would seem to be the only way to provide a sustainable solution for our creative arts and touring sectors. Logistics businesses want to continue delivering for the nation’s creative sector, to reinforce our international standing, but need the support of government if this knowledge and expertise is not to be lost to the EU for ever.