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Britons may need visas to travel to Europe under new EU scheme

European Commission drafting plans for a visa waiver scheme similar to the United States' ESTA programme, that charges applicants a fee 

10 September 2016, 9:31am
British citizens may need to apply for visas to travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU, under plans being drawn up by the European Commission for a visa waiver programme similar to the US system.

The Guardian reported that the EC will unveil draft legislation for the EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) later this year as part of a broader response to calls for greater security across the EU following recent terror attacks in Belgium and France.

The proposed scheme would cover all visitors to the passport-free Schengen zone – of which the UK is not a member – from countries that do not need a visa to enter.

Germany and France both support a system based on the US ESTA scheme, under which visitors from countries that do not require full visas must apply online to travel, preferably 72 hours before they leave, for $14.

“In theory UK citizens, as third-country nationals, would certainly be subject to the obligations of such a scheme,” said Camino Mortera-Martinez, a research fellow specializing in justice and home affairs at the Centre for European Reform.

The EU plan is part of series of measures planned in the wake of the Paris attacks in January and November last year and the Brussels bombings in March this year, that expose serious shortcomings in the EU’s internal and external border security systems.

The plan for a European ESTA was first outlined in 2011. French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said last month that France supported “a European ESTA, like that in the US, Canada and Australia”.

Among a raft of new security measures, the EU has already adopted a passenger name record, obliging airlines to hand EU countries their passengers’ data, and is working on an advanced entry-exit system aimed at registering all border crossings by third-country nationals in the Schengen zone.