The EU commission blueprint could mean travellers to the continent having to pay more than £50 for the right paperwork.
Brexiteers slammed the idea today as the latest example of Brussels being ‘difficult’ in negotiations – and urged Theresa May to ‘swing her handbag’ at a summit of leaders next week.
The EU has exemption deals for short-term visa with dozens of countries around the world. This map produced by the EU commission shows countries that are currently exempt in blue and green, and states that require visas in red. But Britain’s position could change after Brexit
The list is thought to have been drawn up by Martin Selmayr (right), the powerful aide to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) (file)
The visa proposal was contained in a document setting out a number of legal changes that need to be considered if there is no Brexit deal.
The finger of blame over the visa suggestion has been pointed at Martin Selmayr, a close associate of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
Mr Selmayr, who is Brussels’ top mandarin and is suspected of pushing a hard-line stance on Brexit, used a strategy document to float the idea, warning that the bloc has to decide whether to force Britons to pay for entry permits.
What visa rules might Britain face after Brexit?
The EU has drawn up a series of plans for how to deal with British travellers to Europe after Brexit. The options include:
Britain is on a ‘visa required’ list
If there is no deal at all, or a limited deal that does not cover travel, Britain will be placed on a list of countries from which visitors to Europe need a visa.
The cost of this can vary widely but is typically around £50.
Britain is on a ‘visa not required’ list
A trade deal is likely to include agreements on travel that would mean British passport holders could freely enter the EU without a visa.
There would be passport checks at the outside border of the EU but no visa charge.
Time limited access
The EU could also decide that UK nationals should be exempt from visa requirement ‘for stays of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period.’
This would mean anyone who wanted to take up residence for a job might need to buy a visa but holiday makers would not.
The extra fee
Last month Brussels unveiled separate plans to charge £7 administration fees for travellers into the EU – a fee seen as likely to hit Britain whatever the final deal on visas.
That would put the UK in the same category as countries such as Russia, China, India, Bolivia and most of Africa.
The other option would be for the EU to list the UK as a ‘visa-free’ country, meaning that trips between Britain and Europe would remain similar to the present situation.
The US, Canada, Australia, most of South America, and Ukraine already benefit from visa exemption.
A decision to exempt the UK would mean that travellers could visit the bloc for 90 days over a 180-day period without documentation.
Mr Selmayr, who is leading no-deal preparations for the EU, outlined the possibility of the UK being subject to travel visas in a document shown to MEPs.
It said: ‘The proposal will amend the regulation to place the UK on either the visa-required list of third countries or the visa-free list.’
Mr Selmayr, the European Commission’s secretary general, who is referred to as ‘the monster’ by Mr Juncker, is known to oppose Brexit and has been accused of damaging leaks against Theresa May.
Formal talks on the issue have yet to start but any decision to hit the UK with visas will come in to play if no Brexit agreement is reached by March next year.
Imposing visas is seen as a ‘nuclear option’ given the reliance on travel and tourism between the UK and EU countries.
The documentation requirement could also kick-in when a transition deal ends in 2021, if a wider Brexit agreement on trade and other issues falls apart.
Even if the UK is given an exemption, Britons could still be charged £7 for entry permits under a separate EU plan that will come into force in 2020.
That scheme will apply to visa-free countries, with the electronic visas remaining valid for three years or until the passport used during the registration process expires. The UK is hoping to negotiate an exemption.
Visa prices for UK nationals
As the EU looks set to introduce a £6 tariff for British nationals visiting the continent, how much does it cost for Brits to go elsewhere in the world?
Turkey – £14 (online or on arrival)
Egypt – £18 (online or on arrival)
UAE – Free (visa on arrival)
USA – £9 (ESTA online registration)
India – £115 (consulate visit)
Kenya – £36 (online registration)
Cambodia – £21 (on arrival)
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said a decision on visa exemption could be linked to a wider future relationship deal. ‘All third country nationals have to face visa requirements unless there’s an exemption,’ he said.
British officials pointed out that such a move would see the UK introduce a visa requirement for travellers from the EU to the UK.
Tory MP Peter Bone told MailOnline a visa exemption was the only reasonable approach.
‘This is all part of the EU being intransigent in negotiations,’ he said. ‘They will realise that they have to give free visas otherwise what we will do is impose the same on them. It makes no sense at all.
‘At every single stage they are trying to be difficult.
‘I hope Mrs May goes to the summit and swings the handbag a bit, as Mrs Thatcher used to.’