EU parliamentarians to back visa-free travel for Britons after Brexit

Parallel talks among EU states on letting Britons visit without visas following a no-deal Brexit were delayed last week.
Parallel talks among EU states on letting Britons visit without visas following a no-deal Brexit were delayed last week.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - A European Parliament committee is expected to propose on Tuesday (Jan 29) that Britons enjoy visa-free travel to Europe after Brexit, regardless of whether the bloc's divorce with Britain goes smoothly or becomes a damaging, abrupt split.

The committee’s decision – adopted unanimously with 53 votes in favour – must be endorsed by the full parliament next month, which is likely as other EU institutions have backed a move to relaxed visa requirements for Britain after Brexit, provided London reciprocates.

The parliamentary notion covers both a scenario under which Prime Minister Theresa May breaks the deadlock at home and manages to get the divorce deal she had negotiated with the EU ratified in the UK Parliament, as well as a no-deal Brexit.

It will also have to be agreed to by the EU's executive Commission and the European Council, which represents all member states of the union.

EU visa exemptions cover short trips of up to three months and currently about 60 countries in the world benefit from the system from Argentina and Japan to Ukraine.

It is mostly designed for business and tourism and does not cover the right to work in the EU.

Parallel talks among EU states on letting Britons visit without visas following a no-deal Brexit were delayed last week, diplomatic sources said, after Spain raised objections over Gibraltar, a British territory to which Madrid lays claim. 

 
 

Spanish diplomatic sources said on Tuesday that Madrid would insist on excluding Gibraltar from any Brexit deal, as it plans to revive its bid for shared sovereignty over the rocky outpost.

The dispute between Madrid and London has already threatened to derail the whole Brexit negotiation process, but a last-minute deal with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez cleared the way in November for the 27 EU states to approve the divorce package.

Now, however, Britain is struggling to ratify the deal, with a series of votes due late on Tuesday in the House of Commons to seek alternatives to May's troubled plan.