Statement by Shadow Minister for Education Walton Brown

Between 2009-2011, I was contracted by the Bermuda Government to lobby the European Union to include Bermuda -- and indirectly other British Overseas Territories--on the list of countries which have visa-free access to the 26 Schengen member countries of the European Union. Successful lobbying concluded in November 2011, when I was informed Bermuda would be included on the visa free list.

It took the EU another year (November 2012) to publish the document which included Bermuda and the other British Overseas Territories. Over the past year I have maintained contact with the Visa Section of the European Union to determine when the formal vote in the European Parliament would take place so that  Bermudians can travel freely on their Bermuda passport.

Today I was informed that negotiations were complicated this year when a proposal by Peru and Colombia was added. After considerable discussion, I am informed, the European Parliament and Council will recommence their dialogue immediately following Christmas and they are expected to reach an agreement very quickly.

If there are no further complications the amended list of countries which have visa-free travel to the EU will be made into law in March 2014. Once the amendment is published in the Official Journal of the European Union, Bermudians, and other OTCs, will be able to travel visa-free to the area within 20 days.