The EU published contingency plans for a “no-deal” Brexit on Tuesday, outlining a host of travel rights Britons would lose, from recognition of driving licences to loss of pet passports.
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.
The announcement will pile pressure on London as Prime Minister Theresa May scrambles to unite her government behind an agreement, with time running out to reach a deal in time to have it ratified by Brexit day in March.
In one measure, Brussels said it will offer visa-free travel within the bloc to Britons, 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”.
A seven-point advice notice to travellers between the UK and EU about what will happen if Britain crashes out without a deal spells out the rights Britons coming to the bloc will no longer enjoy.
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.
– Pet passports –
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.
Residents of the UK will no longer be able to use the EU “pet passport” and will have to check with individual countries what documents they will need to bring their pet on holiday.
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 data roaming will no longer apply to the UK, allowing mobile phone companies to reimpose extra charges for Britons using their phones abroad.
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.
The commission’s contingency plans highlight six priority areas where urgent action would be needed in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit: residency and visa issues, financial services, air transport, customs and food safety rules, personal data protection and climate policy.