Although remaining EU member states had agreed to exempt UK nationals from requiring a visa to travel to continental Europe after Brexit, Spain has insisted that the legislation being drawn up to allow this to happen should include a footnote describing Gibraltar as a ‘British colony’.
However, this was rejected yesterday by the European parliament, which denounced the description as ‘colonial language which has no place in the world’.
If the member states are unable to reach an agreement on the wording in the next few weeks, there will be no visa exemption for UK travellers to the EU after March 29.
This might mean they would have to apply for a Schengen visa, which costs £52 and takes up to three weeks to process, or wait for the completion of bilateral deals with individual member states before being allowed to travel.
Czech MEP Petr Jezek told The Guardian: “The negotiation is stuck.
“Brexit will hurt immensely and we should do everything possible to soften the impact rather than create further problems for half a billion people. If there is no agreement, and no visa exemption for the UK, the British government may adopt a similar approach – and that would be a disaster.”
The European Parliament has suggested the footnote should simply state that there is ‘a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty of Gibraltar’, but so far this has not proved acceptable to the European Council.