Brexit ‘teething problems’ see Britons blocked from entering EU

Generic picture of a passenger walking between departure gates in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport.

A picture of a passenger walking between departure gates in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport - Credit: PA

“Teething problems” with Brexit as well as the continuing pandemic have posed issues for Britons trying to enter EU countries.

Travellers heading for Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden have been held up at borders following the UK’s departure from the single market.

A number of passengers were stopped at Heathrow Airport as they tried to board an Iberia airline flight to Spain after being told they did not have the correct proof of residency.

The Spanish embassy in London acknowledged there had been “problems for British nationals resident in Spain” and reiterated that both pre and post-Brexit residence documentation could be used.

Meanwhile, police in the Netherlands confirmed that 10 Britons were refused entry into the country.

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Frist Lieutenant Mike Hofman, from the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee force, told the PA news agency: “British citizens are no longer subject to EU rules now that Brexit has started and due to corona they are only allowed to enter the Netherlands if it is strictly necessary.”

Only a handful of countries with low coronavirus rates are exempt from EU rules barring non-essential visitors from outside the bloc and European Economic Area. The UK was removed from the list at the end of the Brexit transition period.

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A number of Britons who live in Sweden were also refused entry to the country.

British ambassador to Sweden Judith Gough said she was “very concerned” to hear of UK nationals being refused entry to the Scandinavian nation.

She said: “It is clear that there have been teething problems with the new system over the weekend, and we are asking the Swedish authorities to provide greater clarity and consistency for UK nationals, who wish to return home to Sweden.”

The diplomat said the British embassy in Stockholm has been in regular contact with Swedish authorities over the last week and asked that any coronavirus restrictions be “clear, well-communicated and appropriate”.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) confirmed that UK nationals should be able to enter EU countries without a visa under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Their spokesperson said: “However, specific restrictions may be in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic which supersede this.

“UK nationals, and their family members, who are resident in the EU, and hold a residence permit, a certificate of application, or a document identifying them as a frontier worker, should not be subject to Covid-19-specific EU travel restrictions.

“However, member states may require them to self-isolate or similar on arrival, provided they also require the same of their own nationals.

“The UK government is working closely with the EU and member states to ensure the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement operate correctly and consistently at the border.”

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