Brits will need visas for trips to EU of more than three months after no-deal Brexit
Brits heading to the continent for more than three months in the event of a no-deal Brexit will need a visa, Brussels confirmed today.
But the European Commission said it would only honour the decision to allow visa-free travel for short stays if the UK agrees to do the same.
The Government is racing against time to strike a deal with the bloc and get it ratified by parliaments around the continent before the UK quits on 29 March next year.
Amid growing concern Britain could leave the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, both sides in the negotiations have ramped up their contingency planning.
Today the Commission published information about priority areas that would need to be considered if the UK crashes out with no agreement - meaning there would also be no transition period.
Among them, it said Brits “would not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period”.
But it warned: “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.”
Labour MP Ian Murray - speaking on behalf of the pro-EU People's Vote campaign - said: “This is yet another new Brexit fact that no-one could have known for sure during the referendum in 2016 – Brits having to go through the cost and hassle of applying for visas if they want to travel to France, Spain or other EU countries for longer than 90 days is not what anyone voted for.
“Even if a dodgy Brexit deal is stitched up in Brussels over the next few days or weeks, we will still have no idea what future arrangements for travel will be with EU countries in the future.
"The Government is trying to force a blindfold Brexit on the country. That’s why more and more people are calling for a People’s Vote on whatever emerges from the Brexit negotiations.”
Eloise Todd, CEO of fellow pro-EU campaign Best for Britain, added: "This is a bureaucratic and costly Brexit. If you told most people they'd end up paying more to go to Europe and have to wait in long queues to get a visa, they would never have voted for it. It's such a waste of time and energy."
The Commission also published plans on copyright, banking services and the Euratom nuclear project, among other things, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
It said pet passports may no longer be valid, driving licences may not be valid in some states without an extra permit, and Brits may not get free healthcare under the EHIC scheme.
It also said Brits may be unable to claim compensation for delayed flights and may end up paying more for using mobile internet.
The Commission added: “While the European Commission is working hard for a deal, and continues to put citizens first in the negotiations, the UK's withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal.
“Contingency measures cannot remedy the full effects of this disruption.
“In the event of a no deal scenario, these disruptions will be even more significant and the speed of preparations would have to increase significantly.”