The European Commission is deciding whether Brits will have to apply for visas to visit the rest of Europe after Brexit.
What it means: Any Brits here fans of last-minute jaunts to Brussels to try out the latest craft beer or cheeky budget breaks in Benidorm? You might want to get those in while you still can. That’s cos the European Commission might take away Brit’s ability to go the Schengen area (a group of 26 European countries) without a visa after Brexit Day (29th March 2019). If that happens, Brits who want to travel to most of Europe will have to fill in a three-page form, pay €60, and wait six weeks for a visa.
Will it happen? Maybe not. The EU lets lots of non-EU citizens visit visa-free. And if Britain manages to work out a deal with the EU about Brexit, a visa-free deal is likely to be part of it. That’s cos there’s big benefits to making it cheap and easy for Brits to visit the continent: British tourists spend £33 billion a yearin Europe (and make up a quarter of all holidaymakers who visit Spain). And British businesspeople frequently flit across to European countries to share expertise and conduct business deals (Brits make 6.8 million business trips a year).
But even if Britain strikes a deal and/or the European Commission rules that a no-deal Britain can get off visa-free, it might still be harder for Brits to travel to the continent than they’re used to. That’s because the EU, compelled by their citizens’ rising concern over terrorism and migration, has announced a new system to make its borders harder to cross.
Called the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) it will require non-EU visitors to get “advanced authorisation” before visiting. That means - you guessed it - applying in advance, as well as paying a fee to do so. Britain could probably get out of ETIAS if it allowed freedom of movement between it and the EU, but considering how keen Brexiteers are on controlling Britain’s borders and specifically on stopping freedom of movement, that seems a bit of a no-go.
Read our explainer on borders.