British disability blue badges are not recognised anymore by several EU countries because of Brexit, it has emerged.
It comes as millions of people in the UK stopped enjoying the benefit of having their blue badges recognised by the European Union since 1st January, when the Brexit transition period finished.
And although the government promised to negotiate their recognition with individual European nations, a year later there is still uncertainty over the most popular holiday destinations.
Which EU countries have not reached a deal with UK on disabled badges?
According to the government website, at the time of writing, the countries which are yet to reach an agreement with the UK on blue badges are Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Iceland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Luxembourg.
But a deal may be hard to reach for people with mobility difficulties to use disabled parking spaces, because non-EU badges do not have a common design with the EU flag, which can be recognised by local authorities as genuine.
So far, the Covid pandemic has masked the problem because travel restrictions prevented people from going abroad, but fears are growing over what will happen when things go back to normal.
In 2019, before Brexit and the pandemic kicked in, over 40 million people travelled from Britain to the countries which now do not recognise UK blue badges – accounting for almost half of all visits abroad by UK people worldwide.
Meanwhile, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the government is continuing “to engage in discussions with a number of countries” and “remains committed to confirming the status of UK issued blue badges for visiting motorists”, according to The Independent.
‘Check with embassies,’ says government
Fazilet Hadi, of Disability Rights UK, told the newspaper: “For many disabled people, a car with a blue badge is the only option for being able to leave home. The Blue Badge enables visits to family and friends, trips to shops, restaurants and cinemas, and visits to the doctor or hospital.”
She added it was “essential that the government ensures that blue badges are recognised across Europe to ensure that disabled people enjoy the same opportunities to travel”.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said blue badge holders should now check with the embassy of their destination country before travelling to check what their local policies are.
The spokesperson added: “It has always been the case that disabled drivers should check the local rules in the country they are travelling in before using a disabled parking card abroad.
“Negotiations on blue badge recognition are ongoing between the UK and individual EU states, and motorists can always contact their embassy for advice or assistance if they need it.”