British MPs seek feedback for enquiry into EU border check delays

EU scrutiny group ‘alarmed’ by potential for longer queues due to European Entry/Exit System set to start in 2024

There are concerns over delays at ports
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A group of British MPs is calling for an urgent inquiry saying they are “alarmed” by potential disruption and difficulties when the EU implements its electronic borders system next year.

It is “imperative” to do a “thorough and open” investigation into likely effects of the EES, says the European Scrutiny Committee.

The launch of the European Entry/Exit System (EES) has been delayed several times from its original start date of May 2022 and is now expected in autumn 2024.

Read more: Has a date now been set for launch of EU's new Entry/Exit System?

Non-EU nationals who do not live in the EU but are visiting, will have to submit biometric data including a fingerprint scan and photograph on their first entry into the Schengen area after the scheme starts (or when they leave if already in the area). They will also submit data from their passport, such as name and date or birth.

Special kiosks and/or notebook computers are expected to be used.

Read more: data kiosks to be put at French border for EU entry checks

Other information collected will include traveller’s date of entry and exit from the Schengen area, which is intended to remove the need for passport stamps.

Committee chairman Sir William Cash, known for his eurosceptic views, said in a statement: “The scale of potential disruption became apparent to us on our visits to the Port of Dover and Folkestone earlier this year. We quickly realised that this under-appreciated issue was one that deserved detailed scrutiny.”

Read more: Major delays on France-UK border in 2024, warns new Brexit report

In particular, the MPs had found “suggestions that day-trippers would have to leave their cars to complete checks, among other problems, alarming”, he said.

The committee is therefore calling on people with experience or expertise in the field to send in evidence to help it “shed light” on potential effects for tourists and businesses.

You can submit evidence at this website by 17:00 UK time on January 12, 2024.

The European Scrutiny Committee was set up post Brexit to monitor new EU laws as to their potential effects on the UK, and the implementation of the Brexit deals.

What areas is the group interested to hear about?

Areas it is interested in obtaining views and information about include:

  • What you think the UK government can do to avoid the potential for disruption for passengers and ports and travel companies
  • Whether you know of any similar systems that are operating in the world
  • What challenges will be involved in ensuring that it is operating fully effectively when it comes in
  • How it is set to change people’s travel experiences
  • Do you think it is justified that the EU is not planning to allow the formalities to all be completed at a distance such as on a website or app?
  • Should completion at a distance at least be allowed in the south of the UK where there are several ‘juxtaposed’ controls, with French border checks on UK soil?
  • On top of EES, the UK has a new online pre-registration process for visits to the UK, called ETA, which has already started for some nationals and is meant to be applied to all non-UK nationals in the course of 2024. Plus, the EU is introducing its similar Etias scheme, in 2025. The survey therefore asks if it may be important for all parties to make sure all these systems work together well.

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