European Union is ‘new communism’ says Nigel Farage in 2013
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Furious Brexiteers said the border charges are a brazen reflection of the European Union’s anti-British attitude. Ex-Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said the move was classic of a “small-minded, petty and self-destructive” EU. European Commission officials today said they were “on track” to introduce their long-planned European Travel Information and Authorisation System from the start of 2023.
The announcement will come as another blow to the pandemic-stricken travel industry.
Sun-starved travellers have already been put off heading to the Continent by extra paperwork and testing costs linked to coronavirus.
Under the Brussels scheme, Britons will have to apply for permission to travel before attempting to enter the bloc.
Travellers will have to provide information about their identity, passport, education, job, recent travel and criminal convictions.
Completing the form will cost £6 (€7), and will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips.
The pre-authorisation fee is expected to apply to around 40 million people, and will only be waived for under 18s and over 70s.
The ETIAS scheme will mean citizens from more than 60 countries outside the Schengen free-travel zone, also including Australia and the US, are required to pre-register for visa-free travel to Europe.
It has been compared to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) used to revisit the United States.
Brexiteer Mr Farage told Express.co.uk the decision to slap visa fees on Britain “sums up the failing EU”.
He called on the Government to avoid charging European arrivals and instead welcome them with open arms to the UK.
“We are an open, self-confident trading nation and want Europeans to come here and spend their money,” he said.
Tory MP Peter Bone lashed out at the EU’s visa scheme as a sign of anti-Britishness in the wake of Brexit.
He said: “It seems the EU is quite happy to impose charges on people that want to travel to their countries, whereas, of course we’re allowing European Union citizens to come here for free.
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“It doesn’t surprise me, it’s just another part of the anti-United Kingdom attitude they’ve taken since we’ve left the EU. If it is free to come into this country it should be free for us to go to Europe.”
The senior backbencher said EU nations reliant on tourism would be “pretty damn furious” by the introduction of yet more red tape for foreign travellers.
He added: “If I was in Portugal, Spain, Greece, I would be infuriated that this European government has added a significant cost to travellers to those destinations. Many of these countries rely heavily on inward tourisms for their financial wellbeing.
“It’s counterproductive to what they would want. But, of course, that’ the problem with being part of an EU club that doesn’t take the interests of the nation states to heart.”
Conservative peer Lord Moylan said: “By all means, they’re free to do it if they want to, but what are they achieving except losing friends and pulling up the drawbridge?
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“These aren’t countries anymore, they’re rapidly becoming provinces of a superstate.”
EU officials say they have streamlined the application form so that it will only take “a few minutes” to complete.
Eurocrats believe that the system will grant “automatic approval” to 95 percent of applications within minutes.
But anybody who arrives without prior authorisation is likely to be deported back to the UK.
Travel firms will have to “systematically check” all passengers before boarding and face paying fines and repatriation costs for visa-less ones.
Britons will have to sign up to the scheme before travelling to tourist hotspots like France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
An ETIAS won’t be required for trips to Ireland because it isn’t in the Schengen zone.
The EU’s Frontex border agents will cross-reference traveller’s details with various crime-fighting and migration databases.
Officials say the system will stop those “who may pose a risk to security or health, as well as compliance with migration rules”.
Brussels has been forced to delay its visa scheme while it thrashes out plans for a “state of the art” border control system to fight terrorism and illegal migration.
It was meant to go live next January but delays have hampered its rollout and pushed the launch back to the end of 2022.
The Commission said: “The system will cross-check travellers against EU information systems for internal security, borders and migration before their trip, helping to identify ahead of time people who may pose a risk to security or health, as well as compliance with migration rules.
“The set-up of ETIAS forms part of the EU’s ongoing work to put in place a state-of-the-art external border management system and making sure that information systems work together in an intelligent and targeted way.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced similar plans to introduce a digital pre-authorisation system for foreigners entering the UK.
No details have been released about the cost of such visas or when the scheme will be introduced.
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