The Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament has voted in favor of exempting UK nationals from needing a Schengen Visa after Brexit.
The vote was unanimous but based on the condition that any future visa-free agreement with the UK was reciprocal. The UK government will have to grant EU nationals the same benefits otherwise the deal would not stand.
Claude Moraes, MEP and rapporteur for the proposal, said: "With the Brexit clock ticking, it is important to press ahead with this measure exempting British citizens from a visa requirement when traveling to the EU. This will go some way to clarifying EU visa policy after Brexit.”
The draft will become law if and when the EU Parliament and Council agree on the bill. The bill should pass as it is in line with the EU's rhetoric regarding freedom of movement.
British travelers will need to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver
Although British travelers will probably not need a Schengen Visa, they will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver which will involve a fee.
ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) will launch in 2021 to improve the security of the region. It will be similar to the American ESTA with applicants needing to complete an online application form to register.
All the countries who currently enjoy visa-free access to the Schengen Area are expected to need ETIAS visa waivers, once the scheme has been implemented.
When people complete the ETIAS registration they will be screened using security databases such as Interpol and Europol. Anyone who poses a security threat will be denied.
What is the current state of play?
At the moment, UK citizens can travel to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area without any form of travel authorization. Only a passport is required upon entry.
ETIAS and Brexit are not related, they are just coincidental. It may have been the case that UK citizens would have still have needed an ETIAS visa waiver if the UK had not voted to leave the EU.
Brexit is still very much up in the air. The future relationship between the UK and the EU is far from certain. Immigration was one of the most important issues in the Brexit referendum and the government has been clear it wants to strengthen the borders. At the same time, the EU has said it will act reciprocally.
Although the Brexit deadline is less than two months away it looks increasingly likely the deadline will be extended. The British Parliament will not approve the negotiated deal and the EU have stated they are not willing to renegotiate. As both parties want to avoid a no-deal Brexit at all costs, a delay in the process is seemingly inevitable.