EU ministers have officially confirmed the new timeline for the post-Brexit EU Entry/Exit System (EES). After multiple delays, some parts of the system will be operational at the end of 2024.
When it finally comes into force, non-EU travelers entering the Schengen area will face new border controls. Some predicted chaos when the program launched, while others hoped the repeated delays would give countries enough time to prepare for the change.
What is EES?
The entry-exit system will be an automated registration system for travelers from the UK and other non-EU countries who do not require a visa to enter the EU. Travelers will have to scan their passports or other travel documents at a self-service kiosk every time they cross an external EU border. It will not apply to legal residents or those on long-stay visas.
The system will record the traveler’s name, biometric data, date and place of entry and exit. Facial scans and fingerprint data will be retained for three years after each trip.
It will apply to entry into all EU member states, except Cyprus and Ireland, as well as four non-EU countries in the Schengen area: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The EES is introduced to strengthen border security and identify travelers who overstay in the Schengen area (90 days in a 180-day period).
How has the travel industry responded to the delays?
The airline industry has welcomed the delays as it allows more time for preparations.
“The EES will be a game changer for the way the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues that need to be resolved to ensure a smooth implementation and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not experience disruption,” said a joint statement from the European Region of Airports Council International (ACI). This is stated by Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The coalition highlighted the need for “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by Member States to ensure that sufficient numbers of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external borders, in particular at airports.” They also said that airlines and airports should be given “sufficient resources” to facilitate the implementation of the new rules.
The organizations also said a public communications campaign is needed to inform travelers of the changes.
Is ETIAS still on track?
The EES is linked to the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This new scheme forces non-EU citizens who do not require an EU visa to obtain travel authorization to enter the bloc. Visa exemption will be mandatory for anyone wishing to visit the Schengen area for a short period.
ETIAS was originally due to be operational from November 2023. Now, according to news site The Local, EU officials have approved a timeline that will see it go live in the first half of 2025.
Travelers will be able to apply for ETIAS online before travel for €7. Once approved, the electronic travel authorization will be electronically linked to your passport and will last for three years.
Why was SEO delayed?
Difficulties with contractors meeting deadlines were cited as a reason for rejecting the SEO.
It is necessary to install automated EES barriers at all international land, sea and air borders in the Schengen area. Travelers will be able to register their details at self-service kiosks and on mobile apps in some countries, after which border guards or electronic gates will complete the checks.
According to reports, the EES will take effect between the third and fourth quarters of 2024.
What impact will the EES have on travel?
In the UK and elsewhere there are fears that the EES could increase delays at border posts.
In a European Council report published by the non-profit organization Statewatch, several countries express concern about delays in implementing the EES. They say the amount of time they will have to test the system before its launch is rapidly decreasing.
French authorities will carry out EES border checks at the Port of Dover, Eurostar and the UK Eurotunnel. They are currently working with the UK Government to minimize the system’s impact on border flows and traffic, but express concerns about potential waiting times.
Other countries are also still working on EES implementation plans. The European Commission has suggested that it may be necessary to introduce the system in a gradual and flexible way to reduce the likelihood of long waiting times at borders.
The launch of the EU’s post-Brexit Entry-Exit System (EES) was originally scheduled for 2022, but has faced multiple delays. Now, EU officials have announced that some parts of the system will be operational at the end of 2024. This could cause chaos for travelers, but airlines and airports are hoping the extra time will give them enough time to prepare for the change.