The European Commission yesterday proposed that British citizens could continue to enjoy visa-free travel to the EU after Brexit – provided the UK government allows a reciprocal deal for European travellers.

The rule would mean those travelling to the Schengen area on UK passports for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period would not need a visa, quelling fears that businesses would end up paying more to send employees to EU countries after Brexit.

If a withdrawal deal is agreed between the UK and EU, the European Commission says the new rule would take effect at the end of the transition period as outline in the agreement. However, if Britain crashes out of the union without a deal, the change would take effect on Brexit day – 30 March 2019.

But the Commission warns that such an agreement would be “entirely conditional upon the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel for all EU member states” – something the UK government has said it would do anyway to promote tourism and business for the country.

And UK citizens would also be subject to rules for non-EU citizens, such as those on border control. With the European Parliament giving approval to set up the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – a US ESTA-style system whereby non-EU citizens will have to fill out an online form to register for permission to travel to the EU – this could mean Britons will have to pay a €7 fee before travelling to EU member states.

The European Commission also confirmed that aircraft travelling between the UK and EU would not be grounded in the event of a no-deal Brexit despite warnings from the UK government that some disruption may occur.