Britain, Ireland and Schengen

Britain, Ireland and Schengen: Time for a smarter bargain on visas

Michael Emerson
28 July 2011

Travellers to the Schengen area – the EU's passport-free travel zone – can move freely between most EU countries but need separate visas for Britain and Ireland, which maintain their own border controls. This situation hurts tourism and businesses, especially in the two island countries, since the need to apply for an extra visa is a real deterrent to potential visitors. Given an anticipated rise in tourism from China and other destinations, Britain and Ireland should agree on mutual recognition of visas with the Schengen countries. Both stand to benefit greatly while being able to maintain their own border regimes.

Michael Emerson is an associate senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

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