The Cruising Association is campaigning for sailors to be given a 180-day cruising visa for EU countries, rather than being limited to just 90 days in 180, decided as part of the UK Brexit deal
The Cruising Association (CA) is lobbying both EU and the UK Governments to reduce the impact of the UK Brexit deal on British small boat cruisers.
Currently, UK sailors can only visit the EU for 90 days in every 180-day period.
Known as the Schengen Agreement, it covers visits to Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Overstaying can incur severe fines.
European sailors can visit the UK for 6 months visa free.
Along with other groups such as second home owners, the CA has previously tried to engage with MPs and Ministers on the issue ahead of the UK Brexit deal coming into force from 1 January 2021.
However, with the COVID pandemic taking priority, the CA has said there ‘has been little will to address the 90/180 problem in the corridors of Westminster.’
The CA is focussing on the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal where it 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.
EU rules allow individual EU countries to issue long-term visas.
The UK Government is now considering addressing the problems of post-Brexit visas for professional musicians.
The CA is making the case that any solution should also cover sailing and motorboat cruising.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the CA’s patron, publicly backed staying in the EU, saying Britain would be ‘mad’ to walk away.
He believes ‘the future of Britain’s cruising sailors is threatened by the Schengen 90 day limit.’
He has now written to the Secretary of State, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP to put 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.
‘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 effects the 30,000 British sailors who currently keep their boats within EU waters,’ he wrote.
‘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,’ added Sir Robin.
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The CA President and 180-Day Campaign spokesman Julian Dussek said that whilst the CA couldn’t be sure its approach would succeed, it was ‘also directly approaching key cruising countries to seek 180-day cruising visas for members.’
‘In parallel, our members will contact marinas, harbour authorities and marine service businesses requesting that they speak directly to their local politicians on the CA’s behalf,’ he added.
Each EU member country can set its own policy for visas and permits of more than 90 days, hence the CA has its ‘local’ teams working out the best strategy for each country.
A similar campaign, calling for reciprocal visa free travel for both UK and EU sailors, has also been launched by pilot book author, Gordon Knight,
He has set up petitions lobbying for British citizens to be given the right to stay for up to six months in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
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