EU Faces Pressure to Postpone New Border Control System Launch

EU Faces Pressure to Postpone New Border Control System Launch

The introduction of the European Union’s (EU) new Entry/Exit System (EES) is facing increasing calls for delay from key stakeholders.

Initially planned to start on May 4th, the launch has been moved to November 6th because of technical problems and France’s request to avoid disruptions during the Paris Olympics.

Airport executives in France are now urging the EU to further delay the system’s implementation until the first quarter of 2025.

Their concerns stem from the tight timeline, which they believe will lead to chaos and unmanageable cues at airports.

Meeting biometric data collection requirements

The crux of the issue lies in the requirement for non-EU travelers to have their fingerprints and photographs taken upon arrival.

Setting up special kiosks at airports to collect this biometric data is a big challenge. The French airports’ representative group, L’Union des Aéroports Français, is worried that they will not be able to set up these kiosks on time.

Thomas Juin, the organization’s president, expressed grave concerns about the impending delays.

“It is not looking good for waiting times,” he warned. “There are risks of really long queues.”

Juin also highlighted the need for additional police resources to manage the anticipated chaos at borders.

Parisian airports’ challenge amid Olympic preparations

The situation is particularly dire for airports in Paris, which will be unable to carry out any preparatory work from May to September due to the Olympic Games.

This timeline clashes directly with the EU’s directive for member states to have the EES systems operational by the end of July.

Nicolas Paulissen, the general delegate of the French airports’ body, emphasized the predicament.

“We want to delay it to the first quarter of 2025, but for now, the European Commission is fixed in its position,” he said. “But this year’s Olympics mean we are unable to carry out work in the Paris airports from May to September.”

Anticipated border delays and economic disruptions

Concerns about the EES’ impact extend beyond France’s borders.

UK authorities have warned of potential 14-hour delays at the border with the EU following the system’s implementation.

The UK Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee cautioned that these extended wait times could affect not only travelers but also the economy and the businesses near the border.

Getlink invests heavily in new facilities

In preparation for upcoming changes, Getlink, which manages the Channel Tunnel, is building a new processing area in Kent. This area will deal with passport registrations for travelers who are not from the EU.

This new facility, costing £67 million, will have computer stations to collect biometric data. This means passengers can sort out their paperwork before they reach the border control in France.

However, even though this new setup aims to handle 500 cars every hour, Getlink admits it is not enough. The tunnel can actually handle up to 840 cars per hour at its busiest times. This could cause traffic jams and delays.

Possible ripple effect

The possible delays in rolling out the EES could have significant effects on different groups intending to visit or live in the EU.

Likewise, the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), set for around mid-2025, might also be pushed back because it relies on the EES. This uncertainty could cause problems for travelers, disrupting their plans.

Delays in processing biometric data could lead to extended wait times and bureaucratic hurdles, complicating the already complex process of obtaining the necessary documentation.

EU immigration policies in reflux

The challenges encountered by the EES implementation shed light on the delicate balance between enhancing security measures and ensuring smooth immigration procedures.

As EU member states grapple with these challenges, they may need to tweak their overall immigration policies to adapt to the changing border control scenario.

If the EES launch is indeed delayed, there might be temporary changes made to current visa and residency rules.

These changes could include extending the time periods for validity or introducing temporary measures to make sure that people aiming to enter or stay in the EU legally face minimal disruption.

Balancing security and efficiency remains a challenge

As the EU strives to enhance border security through the EES, concerns about the system’s potential to disrupt travel and trade continue to mount.

While the goals of the system are laudable, stakeholders warn that rushing its implementation without adequate preparation could lead to chaos, lengthy queues, and economic disruptions.

The calls for a further delay underscore the complexity of balancing security measures with efficient travel facilitation.

As the EU weighs its options, finding a compromise that addresses both concerns will be crucial to ensuring a smooth transition to the new border control system.