British holidaymakers could be forced to apply for visas to visit Europe after the UK leaves the EU, according to reports.

Members of an executive body of the EU are considering plans to operate a visa programme similar to the US waiver.

It would mean British travellers would have to apply for visas to visit any of the 26 countries in the Schengen zone, including France, Spain and Italy.

The European Commission (EC) is due to unveil draft legislation for the EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) later this year, according to The Guardian.

It comes as part of plans to create more security across the EU following terror attacks in France and Belgium.

Steve Peers, a professor of EU law at the University of Essex, told The Guardian: “It’s going to annoy a lot of people. We can ask for full free movement, but any arrangement is going to have to be reciprocal, so you have to ask what Nigel Farage and the others will accept.”

He said he imagined an EU electronic visa waiver scheme would be set up.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Sky News: “The British Government need to stop with the empty mantras and get into the detail of arrangements which will affect the holiday and work plans of millions of British people.”

Currently UK passport holders can travel throughout EU member states with a passport without having to apply for short-term visas.