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French airports worried about extra waiting due to EU Entry/Exit plan

It is expected that special pre-registration booths will be installed at large airports, but they are said to be “not completely satisfactory” as yet

New facilities are planned for entry to France at large airports Pic: godongphoto / Shutterstock

Pre-registration booths for the coming European Entry/Exit System (EES) are being tested by large French airports but are not yet “completely satisfactory”, the president of French airports body UAF has said.

Airports must pay for the booths and only around a dozen large ones will have them, said Nicolas Pau­lis­­sen. Part of the problem will be finding enough space.

“We are worried. We think the start of EES will increase waiting times. Booths will limit the damage but only moderately,” he said.

The booths are aimed at collecting the information that will be needed from non-EU nationality passengers entering the EU’s Schengen area from May next year. 

Read more: New EU border checks for entry to France: plans at standstill in UK

Mr Paulissen said the French government has stated that there will not be any extra border police for large airports to help. However, it is possible that smaller airports, such as those in south-west France, whose border desks are manned by customs officers, might benefit from extra staffing.

He added that a possible gradual implementation, with fewer elements collected at first, has been discussed in Brussels.

“It will be complicated, with all the non-EU visitors making their first [post-EES] entries,” he said. The aim is for a maximum of data to be collected in the booth and for checks of security databases to be launched. An officer at a desk will then do final checks.

Booths are expected initially to cater for both English and French speakers. “We are lobbying for pre-registration online at home but, for now, EU law requires a border official to be present.”

Seeing an officer will be required, both on entry and exit from Schengen, though it is possible that the ‘Parafe’ automatic gates used by EU citizens may later be adapted to complete EES checks.

UAF estimates the time spent on checks at border desks in large airports will double in 2023, though overall increases in waiting could be more. It is hoped processes will speed up after 2023, once most people are registered.

It is not planned that additional papers such as proof of means for trips will be asked for systematically. Short films or explanatory leaflets may be provided on board arriving planes.

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