British citizens may have to apply online and pay to travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU, under plans being drawn up by the bloc for a visa waiver programme similar to the US system.
The European commission is due to 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 continent following recent terror attacks in France and Belgium.
The scheme would cover all visitors to the passport-free 26-nation Schengen zone – of which Britain is not a member – from countries that do not need a visa to enter, EU sources confirmed.
France and Germany both back a system based on the US ESTA scheme, under which visitors from countries that do not require full visas must apply online for permission to travel, preferably 72 hours before they leave, at a cost of $14 (£10).Bearing in mind that it would be open to the UK authorities to adopt a similar system with regard to EU visitors, I suspect that - regardless of the UK's Brexit status - exemptions all round would be the order of the day. Nor are Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece likely to support anything which might diminish the number of British tourists seeking the Mediterranean sunshine. Besides, think of the bureaucracy involved (on both sides) in processing millions of visa waiver forms every year.
It's not gonna happen ...