British citizens including residents in Gibraltar will continue to enjoy visa-free travel in the European Union after Brexit, but in future will have to pay small fee for authorisation, the European Commission has confirmed.
The proposal will apply even in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, as long as the UK reciprocates with visa-free travel for EU citizens.
Britons will have to pay a seven euro (£6.28) fee under the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) that is due to come into effect in 2021, a spokeswoman for Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said.
The new electronic system, similar to the Esta required to visit the United States, means that travellers from Britain will be treated in the same way as those from the US and Australia if they wish to make just a short journey across the Channel.
The same will apply for British citizens resident in Gibraltar.
The proposal is 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 short 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 apply to UK citizens once they are no longer EU citizens.
The Commission’s proposal relates to British citizens and when it made the initial announcement last November, it referred specifically to residents in Gibraltar.
“British nationals residing in Gibraltar will continue being able to enter the Schengen area without a visa,” the Commission said at the time.
Yesterday Natasha Bertaud, Mr Juncker’s spokeswoman, tweeted: “Yes Etias will apply to the UK as 3rd country post-Brexit – 7 euros for a 3 year pre-travel authorisation.”
“Simple form, like Esta to the US, but way cheaper.”
Brussels plans to waive full visa requirements for the UK even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
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.
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.