The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom wants to introduce a new scheme that would make it mandatory for travelers from the EU to apply for travel authorization online before they travel to the UK after Brexit.
The Tories want the rest of the European Union nationals to apply online with their passport for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), before they travel to the UK in the future, in a bid of what they say enabling the UK taking control of its own borders.
The current UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the plans last week.
“When people voted to leave in 2016, they were voting to take back control of our borders,” she said while assuring the people of the UK that she is doing everything to secure the border.
“It is a sad fact that drugs and guns reach our streets from Europe, fueling violence and addiction. People traffickers don’t think twice about risking people’s lives for profit. And most shockingly of all we know that terrorists have been able to enter the country by exploiting free movement,” she added, highlighting the need for such a system in the post-Brexit UK.
As the UK continues to be part of the European Union, the EU nationals can cross its borders with only an ID, issued by any of the member states. However, once an Electronic Travel Authorization is introduced (if so), valid passports will be mandatory for EU travelers to the UK.
In the recent years, many countries have introduced similar, almost identical schemes to the one the UK Tories are planning to establish post-Brexit if they get to lead the government once again, after the upcoming elections.
The US operates the so-called ESTA scheme which stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization since 2009, while New Zealand has introduced its own ETA only this year.
Canada and Australia also operate similar systems. On the other hand, the European Union has announced a few years back the introduction of an ETIAS, which stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System.
The ETIAS is supposed to come into force by January 2021 and will be mandatory for the nationals of over 60 world countries that so far have been eligible to enter the Schengen Area visa-free, including post-Brexit Britons.
However, Tories’ pledges did not please everyone, as shadow home secretary Diane Abbott asserted that their claims to be strengthening the borders through “sell-out Brexit deal” are groundless.
“By quitting the entire system of EU security and justice, we will no longer have real-time access to a host of critical databases or access to the European Arrest Warrant…This will undermine the ability of our police and border agencies to apprehend terrorists and organized criminals, and could even make us a safe haven for fugitives fleeing the justice systems in the EU,” she said in an attempt to highlight the points where the UK would be left weak in a post-Brexit.
As the UK nears its next Brexit deadlines, the country risks crashing out of the European Union without an agreement. If that is the end of an over 3-years-long Brexit, among others the country would then lose the right to use several EU security systems, including the European Arrest Warrant and the Europe-wide Schengen Information System (SIS II), which means the UK would lose access to millions of pieces of information on criminals.