British holidaymakers face paying for £10 visa to visit the EU under Brussels security crackdown
UK holidaymakers could be forced to pay £10 for a visa to go to other EU countries as part of a security crackdown.
The European Commission is discussing introducing a version of the US visa waiver programme to boost security.
International travellers heading to the US are usually exempt from a visa but have to apply for an electronic system travel authorisation known as an Esta. This costs around £10. EU chiefs want to introduce a similar scheme across to help them identify troublemakers and would-be terrorists entering the continent.
But it would apply to people entering the so-called Schengen zone, which excludes the UK meaning British travellers would also have to pay to travel to other EU countries.
Sir Julian King, European Commissioner for the security union, said proposals for a European pre-clearance system would be presented this week.
‘We think this is going to be a valuable additional piece of the jigsaw because it will allow us to know more about the people who are planning to come to the EU in advance so that if necessary they raise questions about either security or in some cases migration,’ Sir Julian said.
‘We’ll be able to intervene even before they arrive in some cases.’
Plans had been mooted over the summer that suggested Britons would have to apply for visas to travel throughout continental Europe once the UK leaves the EU.
But the 26-nation passport-free Schengen zone, which does not include the UK, could operate a visa programme similar to the US waiver before Brexit.
Currently, British passport holders can travel throughout member states without having to apply for short-term visas of any type.
The Esta proposals are part of a broader response to calls for greater security across the continent following recent terror attacks in Europe - and comes one year on from the Paris atrocities.
Sir Julian said: “It’s that level of present, persistent, indiscriminate threat that led to 80-plus percent of European citizens saying they want more action in this area.
“There are a number of elements at the heart of this task - tackling terrorism is one, but not the only part of it. There’s work that needs to be done on cyber-crime and attacks, and serious and organised crime.”
He also said the EU was working with Internet Service Providers to tackle ISIS and other ‘unpleasant’ material. He said ISPs were being asked to ‘identify stuff and talk to them whether according to their rules and procedures it should be taken down. Part of Europol, the internet referral unit, has referred thousands of items over the last 12 months and in nine out of 10 cases ISPs have taken it down.’
He added: “Unfortunately Daesh (Islamic State) and some of their agents are working in the community to try and spread their message and try and radicalise individuals - we have to work against that.”
Sir Julian suggested it was easier to do it through ISPs as the information was not coming from the usual authorities because young people “feel alienated from authority.”