Potential Delays in Europe’s Entry/Exit System

Potential Delays in Europe’s Entry/Exit System

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) has been a source of expectation and alarm for both passengers and authorities, but recent events indicate that its deployment may face yet another delay. 

The EES was originally scheduled to launch in May 2022, however, it has been postponed several times, with the latest goal date set for October 2024. However, growing challenges and unresolved issues raise doubt on whether the schedule is achievable, raising worries regarding the potential consequences for British travellers and the wider travel scene.

The core of the EES hinges on sophisticated biometric passport checks, digital data integration, and seamless border management. EES will require fingerprints and facial scans to be taken from visa-free travellers heading to EU countries.

Despite united efforts, major challenges remain in providing border crossing sites with the necessary facilities. According to reports, preparations are proceeding in several Schengen area nations, but many important participants, including Germany, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and Bulgaria, are still dealing with challenges and system integration delays.

Due to these issues, it would be unsurprising if the rollout is delayed beyond October 2024.

New Digital Border

The EES is a digital system to register travellers from non-EU countries when they cross a border in or out of the Schengen area. It will be deployed in 29 countries across Europe including 25 EU states plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. 

Ireland and Cyprus are the only EU members who won't apply the EES system.

The system was created to improve security and ensure that non-EU nationals who enter the Schengen area on a short-term basis do not stay for more than 90 days in any 180 days.

Possible Impacts On UK Travellers

The implementation of EES could lead to significant congestion at key ports like Dover, as existing technology does not support rapid biometric scanning from vehicles. 

Travellers will scan their passports at self-service kiosks instead of receiving stamps. However, registering fingerprints and a photo in person at the first crossing may cause significant delays, particularly at UK-EU border checkpoints, raising concerns about long queues.

Airlines fear EES will hinder last-minute bookings as the system requires passenger data approval 48 hours pre-departure, holding airlines liable for non-compliance. This, coupled with system costs, could drive up fares for passengers.

Majority Of Brits Are Unaware Of Impending EES Changes

A recent study conducted by Co-op Insurance in the UK has revealed that nearly two-thirds of UK adults are unaware of the EU's new Entry/Exit System (EES).

The survey, which included approximately 2,000 respondents, highlighted that nearly a quarter of participants viewed the new system as a barrier, potentially deterring them from visiting the continent.

Concerns were also raised regarding data retention, with almost half (46%) expressing discomfort with their details being stored in the system for up to three years. Additionally, 38% indicated that potential delays in the system's checks would prompt them to reconsider their travel plans.”

Whether ESS is launched in October or not, all parties concerned must come together, share information openly, and plan for any potential setbacks.

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