British citizens may have to apply for visas to travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU, under plans being considered by officials.
It would mean travellers from other countries could be forced to apply online for a visa and pay a fee before travelling to continental Europe – similar to the American ‘Esta’ document.
When Britain leaves the European Union, it could mean UK tourists and business travellers being subjected to applying for visas to visit countries including France, Spain, Italy and Germany, it is claimed.
More details about the EU Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS) will be published later this year.
It has been put forward for security reasons following the recent terror attacks in France and Brussels.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Sky News: “This week the Liberal Democrats laid out a plan about what the Government should make a priority in any Brexit negotiation. One of those priorities was travel rights.
“The British Government need to stop with the empty mantras and get into the detail of arrangements which will affect the holiday and work plans of millions of British people.”
Currently UK passport holders can travel throughout member states with a passport but without having to apply for short-term visas.
Labour MP Pat McFadden, of the Open Britain campaign, said: “Reality is setting in. Introducing visas would hurt British businesses and families going on holiday.
“The Leave camp repeatedly said visas wouldn’t be introduced but it now looks like another of their main promises is being broken.
“Britain should be open to business, travel and talent and the best way to do that is for us to be a member of the Single Market.”
Experts say there is no reasons Britons should continue to enjoy visa-free travel after leaving, unless this is offered during Brexit negotiations.
Camino Mortera-Martinez, a research fellow specialising in justice and home affairs at the Centre for European Reform, told the Guardian: “In theory UK citizens, as third-country nationals, would certainly be subject to the obligations (of such a scheme).
“This will have to be part of the Brexit talks. It will all have to be negotiated.
“Britain is a neighbouring country, it is a safe country; this would be very bad for business… the two are not remotely connected but after Brexit, Britain will be a third country like Turkey.”
A spokesman for the European Commission said the Greek EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, “informed the rest of the EU Justice and Home Ministers during an informal meeting on 7 July about the Commission’s intention to present a proposal this autumn for ETIAS, similar to the well-known US system ‘ESTA’, to increase the information available on those who enter and leave the EU, including for those travelling without a visa”.