France Announces a Visa System for the UK
The French have taken a consistently hard line with the UK over Brexit and today Mr. Macron confirmed that France would impose a visa system on the British who wished to travel to France if the UK leaves the EU with no deal or any special arrangements in place. A draft law has been put before the French Senate seeking to give the country’s government considerable powers of decree to deal with the problems arising from a no-deal Brexit.
The draft sets out that British nationals, who currently have the right of free movement, would require a visa to enter France and would have to justify a residence permit to stay in France and would also require a work permit to work in France. It is also possible that British nationals’ qualifications may not be recognised and will not be able to avail themselves of social benefits. Further impact on import/export trade could be that the licences that the lorry drivers hold may not be valid and there would be controls on the good and people.
The provisions of the draft are currently being considered in the French upper house, however many of the issues under consideration are not decided by individual countries but by EU policies. The EU has, in the past, been generous with regard to visas and has granted exemptions to a number of countries, including Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates. It is unclear as to whether there is the political appetite in France to extend such an exemption to the UK.
The UK may have to negotiate a visa exemption with the EU Schengen countries and states. Even if the UK did obtain a visa exemption travellers would ultimately have to apply through the forthcoming ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) system – where they would have to apply in advance and pay a fee to have their journey authorised.