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spain raises issues over gibraltar destabilizing brexit agreements

Spain raises issues over Gilbraltar

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the ability of Britons to continue traveling to and within the EU visa-free might be affected by the dispute over Gibraltar. The Spanish government refused to back the visa legislation earlier this month unless all other 26 EU member states agree to add a footnote to the legal text referencing Gibaltrar as a "Colony of the British Crown". MEP's that are required to agree to this legislation have rejected the Spanish government's demand regarding it as "colonial language which has no place in the world." The European Parliament has rejected the legislation three times, including this one.

On February 1st, the legal text agreed read: "Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown. There is a controversy between Spain and the UK 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.” If the UK leaves without a deal, British nationals who wish to travel to the EU for stays of 90 days or less might need a Schengen visa. However, it is more likely that they will need to get the ETIAS visa waiver.

Will Brits be required to obtain a visa to visit the EU?

There is a possibility that British tourists will be required to pay 60 EUR for a visa to travel to EU countries post-Brexit. This has happened due to the demands Spain is making over the status of Gibraltar. The action has derailed Brussel's Brexit preparations.

The plans for offering UK citizens visa exemption after March 29th has been postponed due to the Spanish government's request. Unless there's a resolution it could mean that British citizens, including citizens of Gibraltar, who wish to cross the border will need to pay a visa fee.

Czech MEP Petr Ježek, who is part of the EU's parliament's negotiating team for the proposal, said that Spain is "playing with fire" just weeks away before the UK leaves the EU.  Ježek told The Guardian, “The negotiation is stuck,” and added that “Brexit will hurt immensely and we should do everything possible to soften the impact rather than create further problems for half a billion people. If there is no agreement, and no visa exemption for the UK, the British government may adopt a similar approach – and that would be a disaster.”

Ježek also discussed with the publication that the European parliament’s position had been adopted unanimously and that MEPs could not accept the language introduced by Spain. What they have suggested that the footnote states that there is a “controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty of Gibraltar”.

According to online publication The Local, "If the House of Commons ratifies Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, British nationals would continue to be treated as EU citizens during a 21-month transition period, providing more time for a solution on the visa exemption to be found."

The agreement states that British citizens traveling to the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period should be granted visa-free travel.