The new digital border system, aimed at travelers from the UK, is expected to launch next autumn. According to iNews and The Times, citing Getlink, the owner of Eurotunnel, the Entry and Exit System (EES) is due to go live on October 6, 2024. It was originally planned for this year, but was delayed due to concerns that it would could disrupt travel to the Paris Olympics.
Under the EES system, travelers will have to agree to fingerprinting and facial scanning when they first arrive on the continent. After that, the data, including any records of denial of entry, should allow faster processing, according to travel agency bosses, The Guardian reports.
The European Commission points out that the system will apply upon entry into 25 EU countries (all member states except Cyprus and Ireland) and four countries outside the Union (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), which, together with most EU member states, are part of the Schengen area.
The checks will take place in England as the UK government has a reciprocal agreement with France whereby French authorities can carry out border checks at the UK’s entry points to the EU – in this case the port of Dover, the Eurotunnel and the Eurostar.
However, there are already concerns about the delays that will await British citizens at the border. The Port of Dover has estimated that the additional requirements could take a family of five in a vehicle up to 10 minutes on their first journey after the EES is introduced, compared to around 45-90 seconds now. Eurotunnel estimates that the average clearance time for a vehicle across the French border will increase from less than 60 seconds to 5-7 minutes.