Visa-free travel agreement stirs up Gibraltar row
Brussels has agreed to allow British passport holders visa-free travel to member states, even in the event of a ‘hard Brexit.’
Short visits to EU member states of up to 90-days, in any 180-day period, will be allowed after Brexit, on 29 March.
This welcomed agreement has been achieved under reciprocal arrangements as the UK decided that it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens travelling to the UK for short stays.
The regulation distinguishes between those living in Britain and those who are citizens of Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory which is in the EU.
A deliberately irritating note to the agreement reads, “Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown. 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.”
Referring to Gibraltar as ‘a British colony’ was guaranteed to test relations between London and Brussels.
A UK government spokesperson commented, “The EU’s provisions for visa-free travel into and out of the Schengen area cover Gibraltar, and mean that in any scenario, British nationals from Gibraltar will be able to travel for short stays in and out of Spain and other countries in the Schengen area. Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way.”
“Gibraltar is a full part of the UK family and has a mature and modern constitutional relationship with the UK. This will not change due to our exit from the EU. All parties should respect the people of Gibraltar’s democratic wish to be British.”