EU offers Britons visa-free travel for short trips, if UK reciprocates
Posted February 1, 2019 7:37 a.m. EST
CNN — The European Union plans to allow UK citizens visa-free travel after Brexit if they are on a short trip.
In a statement, the European Council said it will start negotiations with the European Parliament to pass the legislation.
It would apply to British citizens for a period of 90-180 days traveling to any of the 26 countries with open borders, known as the Schengen Area.
The council stipulates that "visa exemption is granted on condition of reciprocity."
The UK has previously said it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens traveling to Britain for short stays after Brexit. But if that changes, the EU would "commit to act without delay" to impose reciprocal visa requirements, it warns.
However, the European Commission has also confirmed that as of 2021, UK visitors to the EU will have to pay €7 (about $8) for the European Travel Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS), which can be bought online ahead of travel. This will last for three years and ensure smooth entry at EU borders and airports, similar to the current ESTA scheme that many tourists use to travel to the United States.
Future travel arrangements between the UK and the EU hang in the balance as the two sides attempt to finalize a Brexit deal.
Britain's scheduled departure from the EU is due to take place on March 29. There is currently no clear agreement for how the UK will leave the bloc that has the support of both Parliament and other European states.
The country is heading for a new showdown with the European Union after Prime Minister Theresa May bowed to pressure from UK lawmakers who demanded she renegotiate her hard-fought Brexit deal.
In a sharp reversal of policy, May agreed to return to Brussels and reopen Brexit talks, even though she previously said the idea was a nonstarter and the EU has repeatedly insisted the deal is locked down.
To succeed, May must secure concessions within weeks on issues that have been raked over for months.
If a new agreement cannot be reached, the UK will crash out of the EU in a no-deal Brexit -- a scenario that has sparked fears of major disruption.