Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Declan Breathnach has warned that the proposed US-style ESTA travel arrangements for EU visitors may negatively impact on Northern Ireland.

Yesterday the EU launched the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). It will introduce new travel arrangements for non-EU citizens visiting the Schengen area. Under the proposals non-EU citizens will still be able to travel without a Visa, but will have to obtain travel authorisation prior to their visit to the Schengen area.

Deputy Breathnach said, “These proposals have been in the pipeline since 2014 but they have taken on a new importance in the light of Brexit. Ireland and the UK are outside of the Schengen Area but are members of the EU and enjoy the freedom to travel. However Brexit changes this entirely. What will happen when the UK leaves the EU and potentially loses freedom of movement for its citizens?

“We need to know whether UK citizens, including those in Northern Ireland, will have to apply for an ETIAS when crossing the border. These proposals may also complicate efforts to ensure there is no return to a hard border. It makes it more difficult to maintain the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland. These are serious questions that will have to be clarified when these proposals are debated.

“This is particularly important in the border region where some 30,000 people commute across the border every day. I have asked the Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald to set out what actions her department is taking in regard to these proposals. The Government needs to ensure the impact of these proposals on the border region is taken into account, and it will have to be discussed as part of the Brexit negotiations.”