One of the most persistent Brexit scare stories was disarmed Friday after the European Council themselves announced Brits would enjoy visa-free travel across Europe after Brexit.
The announcement states that British citizens are free to travel in Europe for 90 days in any given 180 day period, noting that because the United Kingdom has stated it would not require EU citizens to have short-stay visas after Brexit, it would not require the same in return.
The agreement applies whether the United Kingdom leaves the European Union with a so-called Brexit deal or not. The announcement appears to lay waste to a series of sensational newspaper reports in recent months that alleged the British government was preparing to warn holidaymakers not to book European trips in case of a so-called hard Brexit — something the government denied — and that Brits would have to pay €7 to obtain a visitor’s visa.
— EU Council Press (@EUCouncilPress) February 1, 2019
The wording of the official European Council document appeared to have one eye at least on the machinations of the British government at Westminster, where a growing number of senior government ministers are discussing delaying Brexit itself. Noting the official Brexit date of March 29th, the paper qualifies itself noting that could be subject to change, stating: “…the United Kingdom will become a third country and Union law will cease to apply to it from 30 March 2019, unless another date is established in a withdrawal agreement, or the European Council, in agreement with the United Kingdom, unanimously establishes another date.”
One footnote inserted at the insistence of Spain has ruffled feathers, where the status of Gibraltar British citizens is discussed. Calling Gibraltar “a colony of the British Crown”, the document stated: “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.”
Senior Eurocrat Applauds Spanish Warship ‘Invading’ Gibraltar Waters https://t.co/vdj4ZA8fvZ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 7, 2018
The original version requested by Spain was to be more strongly worded, given that nation’s territorial desires over Gibraltar, but that was rejected by France who also have territories so described by the United Nations, reports The Guardian.
The British government responded to the perceived insult against Gibraltar — a self-governing British Overseas Territory which recently overwhelmingly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom — saying in a statement: “It is completely unacceptable to describe Gibraltar in this way.
“Gibraltar is a full part of the UK family. This will not change due to our exit from the EU.”
Britain is due to leave the European Union in 56 days.
01/02/19 — A previous version of this story stated the visa declaration was from the European Commission and has been changed to reflect that it was from the European Council, a separate but closely related body.