British travellers ‘may need visas to travel throughout Europe’
Britons may have to apply for visas to travel throughout continental Europe once the UK leaves the EU, it has been reported. A scheme apparently being debated by the executive body of the European Union suggests the 26-nation passport-free Schengen zone, which does not include the UK, could operate a visa programme similar to the US waiver. Currently British passport holders can travel throughout member states without having to apply for short-term visas, but Britain’s decision to leave the EU has left question marks over the criteria needed for UK nationals to visit the Schengen zone. According to The Guardian, the European Commission (EC) is due to unveil draft legislation for the EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) later this year as part of a broader response to calls for greater security across the continent following recent terror attacks in France and Belgium. The scheme would cover all visitors to the Schengen zone from countries that do not need a visa to enter. Steve Peers, a professor of EU law at the University of Essex, said he did not know what the rules would be, but he imagined an EU electronic visa waiver scheme would be set up. “It’s going to annoy a lot of people,” he told the newspaper. “We can ask for full free movement, but any arrangement is going to have to be reciprocal, so you have to ask what Nigel Farage and the others will accept.” Camino Mortera-Martinez, a research fellow specialising in justice and home affairs at the Centre for European Reform, was quoted as saying: “In theory UK citizens, as third-country nationals, would certainly be subject to the obligations (of such a scheme). “This will have to be part of the Brexit talks. It will all have to be negotiated.” While officially pressing for Britain to invoke Article 50 and begin the divorce talks, officials in Brussels are taking growing satisfaction in what they believe is paralysis and disarray in Theresa May’s new government, according to internal discussions seen by The Telegraph. Senior European Commission officials now believe Britain has become “completely lost” post Brexit and can eventually be expected to “plead” for a deal when it realises the weakness of its position at the negotiating table.