With 502 votes to 81 and 29 abstentions, MEPs at the European Parliament have backed a draft law exempting UK citizens from visa requirements to enter the EU for short visits after the country leaves the European Union.
The legislation will apply from the day following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. From that date, UK nationals who are British citizens will not be required to get a visa for stays in the EU of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
The United Kingdom will be included in the list of more than 60 third-countries and territories whose nationals do not need to request a visa to enter the EU for business, tourism or to visit relatives or friends. The visa exemption does not provide for the right to work in the EU.
The EU said however that it will only grant the visa waiver to UK citizens unilaterally, but on the basis of reciprocity, i.e. provided that EU nationals are also given visa-free access for short business or tourist trips to the UK when it becomes a non-EU country.
If the UK introduces a visa requirement for nationals of at least one member state, “the reciprocity mechanism foreseen in EU legislation should apply”, says the draft law proposal. This may lead to visa requirements for UK nationals being reintroduced.