By David Wilcock, Press Association Political Correspondent
Britons travelling to EU nations after Brexit should not have to get an entry visa even if Britain leaves without a deal, the European Commission has said.
Senior officials had discussed on Tuesday whether UK nationals should be treated as “third country” nationals as part of its no-deal planning, which would require travellers to buy a 60 euro (£52) permit to cross the channel.
But EC vice president Frans Timmermans said the council of commissioners had agreed change the rules – as long as the UK did the same for EU citizens after next March.
He told a Tuesday press conference in Strasbourg: “On visas we propose to amend the visa regulation to allow UK nationals to be exempt from any visa requirement for short stays in the EU once EU law stops applying to the UK.
“But of course an important point: this is entirely conditional on the UK also doing the same thing for EU nationals, reciprocating.”
A document released by the Commission says the rules would apply to Britons travelling to Schengen Area nations, which includes all western European EU members states and eastern ones including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Travel to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are “Schengen-associated states”, would also be covered, it said, as well as Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus, which are EU members but are not part yet part of the free-travel area.
It would apply to trips of up to 90 days within any 180-day period, starting from March 30 in the event of a no-deal Brexit and from the end of any transition period if a deal is achieved.
Adding to Mr Timmerman’s remarks, it also says: “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.”
The Commission urged the European Parliament and Council to back the change quickly “so that it can be adopted in good time before 30 March 2019”. (PA)