The EU council has agreed to allow British citizens visa-free travel to member states, even in the event of the UK leaving the bloc without a deal. The European Parliament are now expected to sign it off.
EU ambassadors in Brussels on Friday gave British citizens the green light to travel within the Schengen area for short days after Brexit without requiring a visa.
The European Council said in a statement: “EU ambassadors today agreed that, following Brexit, UK citizens coming to the Schengen area for a short stay (90 days in any 180 days) should be granted visa free travel.
“Ambassadors mandated the Council Presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament on this legislative proposal.
“According to EU rules, visa exemption is granted on condition of reciprocity. The government of the United Kingdom has stated that it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens travelling to the UK for short stays.
“In the event that the United Kingdom introduces a visa requirement for nationals of at least one member state in the future, the existing reciprocity mechanism would apply and the three institutions and the member states would commit to act without delay in applying the mechanism.”
The regulation distinguishes between those living in Britain and those who are citizens of Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory which is now in the EU.
A contentious footnote in the agreement reads: “Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown. There is a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty over Gibraltar, a territory for which a solution has to be reached in light of the relevant resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations.”
The British ambassador to the EU raised objections to the text in a meeting of envoys, according to reports.
A government spokesperson said: “The EU’s provisions for visa-free travel into and out of the Schengen area cover Gibraltar, and mean that in any scenario, British nationals from Gibraltar will be able to travel for short stays in and out of Spain and other countries in the Schengen area.
“Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way.
So what do you think?
Tell us in the comments.