Post-Brexit Travel: Delays Expected with EU’s Entry/Exit System Rollout

Post-Brexit Travel: Delays Expected with EU’s Entry/Exit System Rollout

The European Council has previously announced the implementation of the Entry/Exit system (EES) which is expected to be in October this year.

British travellers will face extra red tape under the new system, which requires fingerprinting and a facial biometric.

EES is an automated IT system for registering citizens from “third countries”, which means everywhere outside the EU and Schengen area.

The United Kingdom Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee has warned in a hearing that once the European Union starts operating its EES, travellers at the borders between the EU and the UK will have to wait up to 14 hours.

The excessive delays may then affect the economy for local citizens near the borders, businesses, and travel.

Cause For Concern

Various stakeholders, including the Ashford Borough Council, UKinbound travel trade association, Tourism Alliance, Eurostar, and Airlines UK, presented written evidence during the hearing held today, 25 January.

The overarching concern highlighted by all parties was the prospect of extended waiting times, a scenario that could have adverse effects on business and travel.

The Ashford Borough Council expressed particular apprehension, foreseeing a “reasonable worst case” scenario where travellers might face up to 14 hours of waiting at the Port of Dover if the EES is implemented as scheduled in October 2024.

Eurostar, the high-speed train operator connecting London to Continental Europe, argued that the EES is better suited for airports and may pose challenges for city-center and space-limited terminals. While acknowledging the potential benefits of eliminating passport stamping, Eurostar cautioned that the travel experience for non-EU nationals or residents might become more intricate.

Airlines UK, representing a consortium of major carriers, including British Airways, Ryanair, and Virgin Atlantic, took a more optimistic view, asserting that, in the long term, the EES could be beneficial. They recommended that UK border authorities play a proactive role in creating awareness about the new system to minimise potential disruptions.

In response to the evidentiary presentations, Sir William Cash, Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, underscored the gravity of the EES's potential impact on tourists, travel operators, and local businesses. He urged heightened vigilance and strategic preparedness on the part of UK authorities to navigate the forthcoming challenges, particularly at critical ports of entry such as the Port of Dover.

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