Brits could require visas for European travel

European Commission cranks up pressure on Theresa May

British people travelling to Europe may be required to apply for visas unless the UK government agrees to grant reciprocal visa-free travel to citizens of the EU, the European Commission has warned.

In a move that increases the pressure on Theresa May’s negotiating strategy, the EC has released a series of proposals in order to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Citizens of the United Kingdom might need visas to enter the European Union — Shutterstock Brits could require visas for European travel
Citizens of the United Kingdom might need visas to enter the European Union — Shutterstock

As well as threatening to withdraw visa-free travel, they have announced that if no deal can be reached “there would be no specific arrangement in place for EU citizens in the United Kingdom, or for UK citizens in the European Union”.

The proposal by the EC on visas “is entirely conditional upon the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel for all EU Member States, in line with the principle of visa reciprocity”, a statement said.

Brexit negotiations are reaching their final stages, with a November summit to announce a deal hanging by a thread. The Guardian reports May is pushing hard for progress within her government so that the summit may proceed.

A final document has not yet been prepared by British negotiators. If a November summit is missed, the next possible opportunity is in December. This would push a vote in the House of Commons to after Christmas.

On Friday, the ardent remainer and brother of arch-leaver Boris, Jo Johnson quit his post as transport minister because the choice between a deal and no deal offered only “vassalage and chaos”.

If visas are required for travel between the UK and the EU, it may cause further chaos at Britain’s borders. The need to introduce customs controls could lead to miles-long queues at ports on the south coast and at the border between the north and south of Ireland.

A statement published after today’s meeting of the Commission says: “It would mean that UK citizens would not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

The European Commission has released a series of proposals in order to prepare for a no-deal Brexitn — skyfish / Shutterstock Brits could require visas for European travel
The European Commission has released a series of proposals in order to prepare for a no-deal Brexit — skyfish / Shutterstock

“In the scenario where the UK leaves the EU without a deal, this would apply as of 30 March 2019. If a deal is reached, however, it would apply as of the end of the transition period, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement.

“This follows the Commission’s continued commitment that citizens’ rights must come first in the negotiations on the UK‘s withdrawal from the EU.

“This proposal is entirely conditional upon the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel for all EU Member States, in line with the principle of visa reciprocity.

“The UK government has declared its intention not to require a visa from citizens of the EU27 Member States for shorts stays for the purposes of tourism and business. EU rules on non-EU nationals travelling to the EU, such as those on border control, would of course apply to UK citizens once they are no longer EU citizens.

“Today’s proposal is one of the preparedness measures needed as a consequence of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. It is separate to the ongoing negotiations on the UK’s orderly withdrawal.”