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Brexit: Creative Industries’ Access to European Markets

Volume 797: debated on Wednesday 15 May 2019


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with representatives of the United Kingdom’s creative industries about future access to European markets.

My Lords, DCMS is working closely with industry and others across government to ensure that the creative industries benefit from the UK’s future trade agreements, including the future economic partnership with the European Union. We will continue to deepen this engagement over the coming months. The UK’s creative industries are an exporting powerhouse, and leaving the EU will not change that. We have also proposed a wide-reaching agreement on culture which will facilitate co-operation between our two markets.

My Lords, I declare a relevant interest as chair of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, although my question relates to the creative industries more generally. I know that the Minister personally fully appreciates the importance of the creative industries to our economy and that he knows too how important in recent years the creative industries have been in setting the agenda in Europe and making a huge success of Europe’s single market. Specifically, does he agree with the view in the Creative Industries Federation’s recent briefing to us that another EU public vote would be greatly preferable to crashing out of the EU without a deal?

I absolutely agree with the noble Baroness on the value of the creative industries and the cultural sector in general. They are important economically, as she said, but more than that they represent the values and diversity of this country, both domestically and, importantly, abroad. That is why we have regained the top slot in the world soft power index. With regard to another vote, the Government’s position is that we should carry out the will of the people in the first referendum, and in doing so we would like to get a withdrawal agreement with the EU so that we can progress and produce a reciprocal arrangement with the EU.

My Lords, I declare my registered interest. Have the Government taken any steps to ensure, whatever form of Brexit ultimately transpires, that a multi-country, multi-entry, short-term cultural sector touring visa is developed for UK performers, with reciprocal provisions for EU citizens?

My Lords, does the Minister agree that a thriving future for the creative industries is a matter of access not just to markets but to talent, and that limiting EU migrants to those who earn more than £30,000, as the immigration White Paper suggests, will have a severe negative effect on a sector where average earnings hover around £20,000?

I agree that that is an issue; that is why there is a year-long consultation. We will represent the views of the creative industries to the Home Office.

Does my noble friend think that the vote on Thursday 23rd for the European Parliament will very much suffice for a second referendum?

My Lords, have the Government made an economic analysis of any kind regarding the potential damage to the UK’s creative industries that would be likely to result from a soft or a hard Brexit? This is no small thing, as it leaves many thousands of jobs at risk and a commensurate degree of enormous anxiety.

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that it is no small thing. As many noble Lords will know, the Government produced two analyses of the economy as a whole in November last year and February this year. There has not been a separate economic analysis comparing the two scenarios he mentioned, but I think it is clear to everyone that a Brexit which involves an agreement with the EU is better, because it allows us more time to negotiate a future economic partnership which, crucially, involves reciprocity in many of the areas that concern the creative industries, such as movement of talent.

My Lords, the continued growth of the UK creative industries is founded on the creative education, research and innovation delivered in UK universities. The UK’s creative education sector is highly dependent on access to European markets and funding. Brexit threatens to damage the reputation of the UK as a centre of the creative arts. The workforce in creative higher education, like that of the wider creative industries, is critically dependent on continued access to skilled workers from Europe, as well as non-EU countries. The Government should work closely with creative universities, particularly UAL, to review the shortage occupation list to ensure that it reflects the economic need for the training skills provided by the creative industries.

I very much agree with my noble friend that the academic sector in this country plays a vital role in sustaining our creative industries, and we certainly intend that to continue.

My Lords, this is not simply a question of economics. It is also about the UK’s soft power. I visited Paris before Easter with the British Council, and the creative industries were stressing just how difficult it will be to have exchanges. What work are the Government doing to ensure that we can continue to have visiting theatres and exhibitions coming to the UK, and vice versa?

We agree. We think it is important that the cultural sector generally is able to have exchange visits, temporary movement of goods, and such like. Some areas need to be looked at in the immigration White Paper, but there are certainly plenty of avenues to be able to continue them. Indeed, to a certain extent, the immigration White Paper suggests some preferential arrangements for EU member states for at least three years.