Waiting times at the borders between the United Kingdom and France could double for those reaching the latter once the new Entry/Exit System is launched, French public finance watchdog Cour des Comptes has predicted in a new report.
According to the report, the new system, the launch date of which remains unknown so far, might even triple queuing times at the border between the UK and France.
The EES is a new border system through which the EU intends to modernise the management of external borders by registering data on non-EU nationals entering and leaving the EU and Schengen Area territory. Through it, the EU plans to enhance security for both its citizens and visitors.
The equipment that will be planted at the EU borders will collect facial biometrics and fingerprints for those passing through for the first time after its launch. Passing the borders will then become easier for travellers, as they will only need to scan passports on subsequent trips.
In spite of the EU’s hopes that the system will cut short waiting times at its external borders, Cour des Comptes notes in its report that the queues will be longer due to the need to collect photographs and fingerprints during initial registration.
“Even though the average check time has increased since Brexit for Eurostar, doubling or even tripling waiting time could drive some travellers to opt for a plane,” the report reads.
According to British newspaper The Telegraph, France has ordered 544 data kiosks and 250 tablets to install at its external orders, in order to facilitate the registering of travellers onto the system.
The authorities have previously tested the system, concluding that the registering will take approximately two more minutes per passenger at border checkpoints via ferry port or airport.
The predicted increase in waiting times for British nationals travelling to the EU has been quite concerning for UK officials too in the past. The issue had been raised at the meeting of the UK Lords Committee in November last year, during which the Justice and Home Affairs Committee debated on the two new EU border management systems, the ETIAS and the EES.
The head of EU exit for the Dover Harbour Board, Tim Reardon, has pointed out at the time that aside from the fact that the waiting lines would become longer, travellers would also have to step out of their cars in order to complete the controls.
“There is no way of doing a biometric control without getting everyone out of the vehicle… That’s the one thing on our site which cannot happen because you’re in the middle of live traffic… It would be equivalent to asking people to get out of their car at a motorway toll booth. It’s fundamentally unsafe, and it can’t happen,” he had said.
On the same month, the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU has published a compilation of comments from the Member States’ authorities responsible for the management of the EES regarding the testing results of the system at their borders.
A large share of them had noted at the time that border checks processing time will increase, with the Austrian authorities expecting process times “to double compared to the current situation.” The German authorities also noted that process times would increase significantly, and similar conclusions have been presented by the other member states too.