As a result of Brexit, Britons can now only spend 90 days out of every 180 days in the EU without a visa and, as the Bulletin has been highlighting over the past week, the new regulations are causing a nightmare for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Britons, who own properties, run businesses and “commute” for work reasons and have families spread across the EU and the UK.
A host of case studies have been brought to light over the past few days and the latest is the impact the regulations are going to have on the yachting industry.
The Cruising Association, which has over 6,000 members in 43 different countries, has launched its own campaign.
This week, the President of the Association, Julian Dussek explained to the Bulletin that the CA has launched a campaign to reduce the impact of Brexit on British small boat cruisers who have traditionally explored the coasts and inland waterways of Europe in sailing and motor boats.
There’s a particular focus on the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal where the CA is lobbying for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the Schengen 90-day visa. The CA is also exploring opportunities for a simplified application process to the existing long-term tourist visas available for France and Sweden.
Along with other groups such as second home owners, professional musicians, academics, etc. the CA has previously tried to engage with MPs and Ministers on this issue but, thus far, and with the COVID pandemic taking priority, there has been little will to address the 90/180 problem in the corridors of Westminster.
EU rules allow individual EU countries to issue long-term visas and a recent report that the Government is now considering addressing the problems for professional musicians is encouraging.
The CA is making the case that any solution should also cover extended amateur sporting tours including sailing and motor boat cruising.
In a letter from the CA’s Patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, addressed to The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Sir Robin puts forward the CA’s argument that the Schengen 90 days in 180 limit, that now applies to UK citizens, will cause severe difficulties and is unfair.
He writes: “We are delighted to welcome visiting EU yachtsmen but we want equality. This is not what we expected from Brexit. It is unfair and resented and it particularly affects the 30,000 British sailors who currently keep their boats within EU waters.”
Sir Robin signs off with this request: “Could I ask on behalf of all British sailors that whilst seeking to resolve the difficulties now facing touring musicians, your working group also recognises the needs of amateur sportsmen and specifically our small boat sailors voyaging on Schengen’s waters, for whom the 90-day limitation is an existential threat to our maritime culture.”
Julian said that his members are in the same boat as the musicians, for whom Sir Elton John is campaigning because the rule will curtail their movements and tours in the EU.
“All we w ant is a level playing field, access to a six month visa which is easy and simple to obtain. Countries can open bilateral talks and we would like to see Spain and the UK to start negotiations because the fallout could be a disaster for not only British sailors and yachts owners but also the Spanish economy.
“Many members are already thinking of removing their yachts from the EU bases and bringing them back to the UK or moving them out of the EU to Turkey or Montenegro where there are all kinds of incentives to attract the nautical industry and measures to make our lives easier.
“This will also hit the super yacht sector and the refit and repair industry.
“EU rules allow individual EU countries to issue long-term visas and a recent report that the Government is now considering addressing the problems for professional musicians is encouraging.
“We are making the case that any solution should also cover sail and motorboat cruising.
“We do not know if this approach will succeed. That’s why we are also directly approaching key cruising countries to seek 180-day cruising visas for members.
“If you travel out to your boat on May 1 you can use it for up to 90 days – until July 30.
“You must then leave all the countries in the Schengen zone and you can’t return until 180 days from May 1 i.e.: October 28.
“This effectively rules out extended cruising within Schengen which for me and many of our members poses a serious problem.
“For those who have their vessels moored in the EU all year, for half of the year, or longer depending on how much time they spend in the EU for other reasons, despite paying all the mooring fees and other costs, they cannot sail and use their yachts.”