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BREXIT

EU’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit plan spells out bad news for British travellers

The European Union on Tuesday published further contingency plans for a "no-deal" Brexit, piling pressure Prime Minister Theresa May by warning that Britons will lose a host of travel rights from recognition of driving licences to lower credit card fees and no mobile roaming charges.

EU's 'no-deal' Brexit plan spells out bad news for British travellers
Photo: AFP
The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said that, while it is working hard for a deal, it must prepare for “all outcomes” and “contingency measures in narrowly defined areas” may be needed to protect the EU's interests.
 
If a deal is agreed then the arrangements could still be applied at the end of any agreed transition period – which under the current withdrawal agreement would be January 1st 2021.
 
In one measure, Brussels said it will offer visa-free travel within the bloc to Britons on short trips, but warned this was “entirely conditional on the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel to EU citizens travelling to the UK”.
 
“UK nationals would be exempt from any visa requirement for visits of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This is entirely conditional on the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel to EU citizens travelling to the UK.”
 
Frans Timmermans, the vice-president of the European Commission, said: “We will do upon you what you do upon us.”
 
However the Commission notes that “the UK government has already declared its intention not to require a visa from citizens of the EU27 Member States for shorts trips to Britain;
 
The EU says its visa proposal demonstrates its “commitment to putting citizens first in the negotiations with the UK”.
 
The proposal now needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.
 
The Commission published a nine-point advice notice to travellers between the UK and EU about what will happen if Britain crashes out without a deal. It spells out the rights Britons coming to the bloc will no longer enjoy if there is no agreement between London and Brussels.
 
British driving licences will no longer be recognised automatically by EU countries, leaving UK drivers to check with each country they travel in whether they will need an extra “international driving permit”, the notice says.
 
At airports, UK nationals will no longer be able to use the priority EU passport queue and will be subject to extra questions about the purpose and length of their visit. 
 
When it comes to health a no-deal would mean Brits would not be able to use the European Health Health cards (EHIC) to access treatments.
 
The warnings of what will happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit echo those already given by the British government earlier this year.
 
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Photo: AFP

 
They will also see limits reintroduced on the amount of alcohol and tobacco they can bring into the bloc and may have their bags searched by customs officials.
 
EU rules protecting air passengers will no longer apply to British flights and airlines, meaning that travellers on them may no longer be able to claim compensation if their flights are delayed or cancelled.
 
Recently introduced EU rules on mobile data roaming will no longer apply to the UK, allowing mobile phone companies to reimpose extra charges for Britons using their phones abroad.
 
And Britons were warned about rising costs of paying for gods with bank cards.
 
“As of the withdrawal date, transactions between the EU-27 and the United Kingdom will no longer be covered by the EU rules limiting interchange fees,” read the notice.
 
“Provided that merchants are allowed to apply surcharges on consumers for card payments, this may lead to a higher surcharge for card payments.” 
 
And Britons have also been told they will lose the right under current EU law to seek consular assistance from any EU member state if they are travelling outside the EU.
 
“As of the withdrawal date, UK nationals will no longer be able to benefit from this right and EU-27 citizens will no longer be able to turn to UK embassies and consulates to seek consular protection on the basis of EU law,” the notice reads.
 
But there is perhaps one silver lining for British tourists, they will be able to claim back VAT on items purchased within Europe when they leave. 
 
In today's Communication the EU also outlines priority areas where it is likely measures could be necessary should it appear likely that the UK will leave the EU “in a disorderly manner”. 
 
Among these are citizens' rights and businesses, both areas which could be affected by residency and visa-related issues, as well as financial services, air transport, customs, sanitary, the transfer of personal data, and climate policy.
 
The Commission has said that: “Any contingency measures would only be taken in limited areas where they are necessary to protect the vital interests of the EU and where preparedness measures are not currently possible.
 
“They would be temporary in nature, limited in scope, adopted unilaterally by the EU and must remain compatible with EU law.”
 
Various European countries have been stepping up their own preparations for a no-deal Brexit including France and Germany

Member comments

  1. …”.And Britons were warned about rising costs of paying for gods with bank cards.” i had no idea Britons were paying for gods with bank cards. How do I get one of those bank cards? I’ll pay the higher costs.

  2. Before you give up the simplicity (and low cost!) of buying deities with cash…[“And Britons were warned about rising costs of paying for gods with bank cards…”], think about what happens when you can’t make your payments and the EU god-collectors come round.

    Seriously, I just wonder how much of this is push-back on both sides. Talk about messy divorces! Nobody is thinking about the children!

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BREXIT

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.

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