Easy European travel can now be complex and expensive.
One of the most demoralising consequences of Britain’s exit from the EU was the end of the freedom of movement we’d all enjoyed for decades. In the past, British nationals, as members of the EU, could travel without visas throughout the member states and remain there for as long as we wished. We enjoyed all the same health and social care privileges while there and we could take jobs, study or form lasting relationships without issue.
From the politically independent www.ukandeu.ac.uk website:
Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the EU. Citizens of EU member states can look for a job in another EU country, work there without needing a work permit, reside there for work purposes, stay even after employment has finished and enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages.”
Today, British citizens must follow the same rules as those in every other non EU-member nation. This means we are allowed to spend a maximum of just 90 days in the EU’s Schengen zone before we need to leave for three months. The rule states that at any point in the calendar, only 90 of the past 180 days may be spent in the EU. So if tomorrow would be your 91st day, you need to either get a complex visa to stay longer, leave or risk deportation.
It’s difficult to understand the 90/180 day rule at first but I think of it as a rolling block of dates on a wall calendar. We need to count backwards from today and compare the total time spent inside and outside the EU in the past six months. If for example we stay in the Schengen zone for the full three months, we need to leave and remain outside for three months before we can re-enter. If we stay for a shorter period, those days are subtracted from our allowance until they are “old” enough to fall outside of the rolling 180-day block.
What this means in practice is that if you’re lucky enough to make multiple visits, you now need to plan ahead. If you burn all your allowance in spring, you can’t be there in summer. And if you plan to travel around, work or study, you’re going to need to research long-stay visas, invest in comprehensive health cover and consider any work or tax implications than now apply.
It’s a giant backward step in personal freedom and in our ability as British citizens to integrate with our geographic partners.