EU to grant Britain visa-free travel even with no-deal Brexit

EU nations have agreed to give the UK citizens visa-free travel even at the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, London responded with anger after the bloc described Gibraltar as a British "colony."

If Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, UK citizens should still be able to visit the bloc visa-free for up to 90 days, ambassadors of the remaining 27 EU nations said on Friday. The 90 days can be taken in any 180-day period, the envoys said in Brussels. 

In a statement published on the European Council website, ambassadors said that the visa exemption was "granted on condition of reciprocity," meaning that the UK was also expected not to demand visas from EU citizens for short stays.

"In the event that the United Kingdom introduces a visa requirement for nationals of at least one member state in the future, the existing reciprocity mechanism would apply and the (EU) would commit to act without delay in applying the mechanism," they warned.

If adopted, the legislation would put British nationals in line with citizens of Canada and Australia, who are also allowed to visit the EU Shenghen area without visas for 90 days.

However, the proposal is separate from a long-term EU regulation, effective in 2020, that sets up a "pre-authorization" for travel by visitors from countries where the EU does not require a visa, at present more than 60.

Under this system, visitors can travel in and out of the EU for three yearrs for a €7 ($8). Britain will join this group after Brexit.

This septic isle

It never rains

A delay by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to allow Parliament to vote on her Brexit deal has increased the chances Britain will leave the bloc without a deal in March. The odds on a no-deal Brexit have shortened to 2/1, according to oddschecker.com, while Steve Eisman, the trader whose prediction of the 2008 crisis was dramatized in the film The Big Short, is betting against UK banks.

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Money where your mouth is

The IMF says that while some sectors like agriculture and mining might benefit, the majority of sectors would shrink by between about 1 percent and 33 percent. The Bank of England said no-deal would wipe between 4.75 percent and 7.75 percent off what the UK would have produced by 2024 and the pound would fall by 25 percent.

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Not waving, but drowning

The EU has said the UK would have "third country" status under a no-deal scenario, giving it the same status as China, Russia and Pakistan. All goods crossing EU borders would be subject to tariffs of up to 38 percent. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said additional paperwork attached to trading under WTO rules would act as an extra tariff of up to an average of 6.5 percent.

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Love's labor lost

Britain’s farmers and manufacturers face the largest shortage of skilled workers since 1989 due to a fall in the numbers of EU27 nationals coming to work since the Brexit vote. A no deal would likely accelerate that process.

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A road to nowhere

The financial industry and British regulators say a hard Brexit poses a threat to trillions of euros worth of derivative and insurance contracts London could lose up to to €800 billion to Frankfurt, lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance has said. Some 30 banks and financial firms have already chosen the city as the site of their new EU headquarters, with others opting for Dublin or Paris.

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Movers and shakers left in limbo

No-deal would have significant implications for people's ability to go where they want. A €7 charge for visiting the EU's Schengen Area would kick in in 2021, after the UK's transition period ends. British expats would face uncertainty, as many foreign governments have not yet established their rules for residency under no-deal.

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Can't beat a good queue

The UK Road Haulage Association has said a lack of planning over no-deal would mean the manufacturing sector would be put under "severe pressure" and hauliers would go out of business. European airports have warned that no-deal would cause "major disruption and heightened safety risks" to the air network. Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary has warned planes could be grounded.

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All in it together

The biggest impact of no deal could be felt in Ireland, which exports 12 percent of its goods and 40 percent of its food to the UK, and two-thirds of its other exports travel through the UK. The IMF believes the Netherlands, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Belgium also face taking moderate hits to their economies of between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent.

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Where there is harmony, May brings discord

The Police Federation has said it was worried about "widescale disruption and dangers for the general public." Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said 3,500 troops are on standby to cope with the fallout of no deal. The government is preparing for potential shortages of key items in the wake of a no-deal Brexit. But May refused to guarantee the health service (NHS) would have enough medicines.

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Christmas-voting turkeys play chicken in Ireland

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would remain unresolved with no deal. The main sticking point has been the Irish 'backstop' — the insurance scheme for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. One solution has been a Canada-style agreement that would remove most EU restrictions but would not abolish the need for a hard border. But uncertainty breeds fear.

'Gibraltar is not a colony'

At the same time, the document irritated London by imposing new distinctions between UK citizens living in Gibraltar and the ones living on the British Isles, according to the Reuters news agency.

The proposed legislation also described Gibraltar as a "colony of the British Crown" and said its sovereignty was disputed by Spain.

"There is a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom 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," the document said.

London regards the strategically important region at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula as a British Overseas Territory.

"Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way," a spokeswoman for London said on Friday.

With the UK set to leave the EU on March 29, Spain is increasing its claims to the neighboring territory.

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01:53 mins.
Business | 19.10.2018

Gibraltar's rocky Brexit problem

dj/rt (Reuters, dpa)

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