The United Kingdom will no longer be part of the free movement system of the European Union after the 1st of January
Travel from the UK into mainland European countries could be disrupted as a result of COVID-19 restrictions once the Brexit transitionary period ends, the foreign secretary has now said.
Just a small number of countries that have low rates of COVID-19 infections are exempt from the EU rules that bar non-essential visitors from outside the European Union, as well as the European Economic Area (EEA)
These countries include Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, but an EU Commission spokesperson last week claimed there were no plans so far to extend that to the United Kingdom. “This is a decision for the council (European Council) to make,” the spokesperson said.
This comes after the Prime Minister has said that “a good deal is there to be done” in regard to the EU on Brexit trade talks but he said that the bloc is currently insisting on terms with which no British Prime Minister could possibly accept.
This comes amid months of deadlock in regards to the Brexit trade deal talks between both the EU and the UK, who have so far failed to reach an agreement, with a supposed deadline of Sunday.
After a three-hour dinner on Wednesday night, Boris Johnson, the UK’s Prime Minister, and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, agreed that negotiations between the two parties remain “very difficult” and there are still “major differences between the two sides”.
Questioned on the report in the Financial Times, Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday: “COVID restrictions will depend on the combination of what the EU decides, but also member states.”
“We have already got challenges with that and we have put our own restrictions in place.”
He acknowledged that coronavirus “remains a live issue and we need to make sure we have got control of it”.
“I’m afraid restriction on travel, inevitably, is going to be something that is kept under review.”
Asked whether that would mean Britons will find it difficult to go to the European mainland, he said: “It all depends on the prevalence of the virus in those continental European countries.”
This comes after the Foreign Minister suggested that Sunday was now being treated as a hard deadline by the UK government, by which they need to decide whether a free trade agreement with the EU is still possible.
A statement issued earlier by a government spokeswoman said: “We take a scientific, risk-based approach to health measures at the border, and it is of course in the interests of all countries to allow safe international travel as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said: “I cannot believe that EU countries who rely on the spending power of UK business and leisure travellers will seek to block entry after 1 January.”
“Cool heads need to prevail at this politically difficult time as travel and tourism is such a key contributor to economic growth in Europe.”
“I’m sure that individual countries who need UK tourism will be sensible and override any EU-bloc decision which prevents entry. It is so important now for countries to work together globally to create a consistent approach.”