The EU’s plan to bring in a new digital system for registering non-EU travellers’ entry into and exit from the Schengen area has been delayed several times and there are now reports that it is being postponed again.
Originally planned for May 2022, the Entry/Exit System (EES) was then scheduled for September 2022 and then May 2023.
Read more about what the system will involve and who will be affected here:
New European Entry/Exit System: 9 key things to know in advance
Sources including the UK’s House of Commons Library have stated this week that the May date has now also been put off.
These reports are not unfounded but the May date has not in fact been officially cancelled by the EU as yet.
The claim has arisen from a report of the proceedings at a recent meeting of eu-Lisa, an EU agency tasked with organising the EES.
At the meeting, eu-Lisa officials working on EES stated they considered that the planned date of entry into operation of the system, of May 2023, was no longer achievable, blaming “delays from contractors”.
They said the agency is now preparing a revised timeline to present for approval to the European Council in March.
They said however they would invite all concerned to continue to prepare for a target date before the end of this year and, in particular, to make sure border crossing points were fully equipped for use of the system by then.
This comes as there have been widespread concerns in EU member states about longer queues at borders resulting from the new systems.
Read more: French airports worried about extra waiting due to EES
There have also been questions over whether preparations were advancing sufficiently in the UK where French checks are done for ferries from Dover and people taking the Eurostar and Eurotunnel trains.
Read more: New EU border checks for entry to France: Plans at a standstill in UK
In practice then, it appears likely the May date will be missed, however it still remains the EU’s official goal to date.
A European Commission press officer for home affairs told The Connexion yesterday (January 18): “The currently planned launch date for the EES is May 2023.
“Any postponement or change will be discussed and approved by the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council based on the technical assessment provided by the EU-Lisa.”
The JHA Council is one of the configurations of the Council of the European Union, whose responsibilities include cross-border issues.
It is made up of justice and home affairs ministers from each member state. Its next meetings are January 26 and March 9.