Top navigation

ISM on Brexit: 'The relationship between a post-exit UK and the European Single Market is a source of considerable concern'

Laura  Barnes
ISM on Brexit: 'The relationship between a post-exit UK and the European Single Market is a source of considerable concern'

In its first column for MI Pro, The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) discusses what aspects of musicians' working lives could be affected by today’s triggering of Article 50, and what the organisation is doing to monitor the development of Brexit…

Today (29th March 2017), nearly nine months after the referendum results, Prime Minister Theresa May has invoked Article 50 – and thus formally started the two-year process in which the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

The key thing to remember at this stage, nothing has changed; we still haven’t left the EU, and musicians can still work and travel in Europe as before. At this stage there is still little certainty and we know that this is a source of some concern in itself for musicians and others trying to understand what it will mean to be a music professional in a post-exit environment. But it is still too soon to say what the impact will be, and indeed what final shape an exit may take and how this will affect the following issues.

The relationship between a post-exit UK and the European Single Market is a source of considerable concern for our members. This morning we launched our secondary survey seeking musicians’ views on the impact for musicians of leaving the EU.
Article continues below


In our first survey, undertaken in October 2016, a large number of our respondents told us that freedom to work in other parts of the EU was important for them. Copyright also matters: members placed importance on recent European initiatives to regulate collecting societies, and on participating in the Digital Single Market (a European initiative to facilitate cross-border trade and to modernise the copyright framework).

The ISM, along with our peers in the creative sectors, is in a dialogue with the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to talk about the things which matter to musicians and others in the creative industries.

The IPO has told us that while the UK remains in the EU, the Government will continue to argue for what is best for the UK. At the same time, it has in mind the perspective of a likely repeal of European-derived legislation once exit takes place.

This ‘Great Repeal Act’, as it has been referred to on occasion, is intended to achieve two things, at the point of British exit: an act to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act (which created among other things the means to bind the UK to European law), and legislation to enshrine all law currently on the UK statute books as a result of European law directly into UK law. The government can then choose to repeal any legislation which originated under European law – obviously without the risk of being in breach of a European Directive or Regulation as these will no longer apply.

The reported aim, according the statements by the Prime Minister, was to deliver some certainty to business, but also to signal a concern for the protection of workers’ rights.

This matters, because a much significant employment law in the UK relevant to ISM member comes originally from Europe, including regulations governing working time and the right to paid holiday, rights of part-time and atypical workers, family-friendly policies and also collective issues such as provisions for redundancies, certain protections in the event of a transfer from your current employer to a new one.

We will continue to monitor developments closely, and we will be asking ISM members to continue to tell us what matters to them, so we can continue to represent the professional musician’s perspective in all these debates.

If you would like to find out more about the ISM and our work, please do visit our website at Complete our Brexit survey at 

Tags: musicians , ism , Opinion , brexit , eu exit , Article 50

Follow us on