Skip to main content

Call for Evidence

Terms of Reference

On 19 July 2023, the Committee heard evidence from Eurostar, Getlink and the Port of Dover on the introduction of the EU’s delayed ‘Entry/Exit System’.

The EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES) will replace the physical stamping of passports for non-EU nationals when entering and leaving the ‘Schengen Area’. The European Commission explains that the automated IT system will “register the person’s name, type of travel document, biometric data (finger prints and captured facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit…”. The European Commission argues that the system is necessary to ensure that non-EU nationals do not stay longer than the Schengen rules permit—no more than 90 days in any 180-day period—and will provide the EU with a central register of movements across the external Schengen border.

During its evidence session on 19 July, the Committee heard that UK ports operating ‘juxtaposed’ border controls—where EU checks take place before ferry/train boarding on UK soil—face the greatest potential disruption from the introduction of EES. This is because, as currently designed by the European Commission, registration for the EU system will not be possible remotely.

The Committee also heard concerns regarding: the lack of information currently available on the EES registration process; uncertainty over whether there will be a trial period before EES is fully implemented; and the current absence of EU provision for interoperability between EES and similar non-EU systems.

On the UK-side, stakeholders have questioned the Government’s preparedness for the introduction of EES, in particular, concerning its plans for mitigating potential delays and queues during registration at London St Pancras International, Folkestone and Dover (which are some of the country’s main commercial and leisure links to continental Europe).

For UK sea- and air-ports that do not operate juxtaposed border controls (which is the vast majority of UK ports), EES may present a different set of challenges. Ports and operators serving EU Member States could have to grapple with a lack of public awareness of the new system and an unprepared EU border. Travel for millions of UK holidaymakers could be disrupted by queues for registration at European destinations. Concerns have been raised over possible delays in installing the necessary infrastructure at the EU's external border and EU and Member States' provision of resources to ensure the effective implementation of EES.[1]

The EU’s introduction of EES touches at the heart of UK/EU relations: it is a system with potentially serious consequences for the UK border which has been—and continues to be—the subject of political- and official-level dialogue and cooperation. More specifically, it also raises questions regarding the Government’s approach to the post-Brexit management of the UK/EU border and those reliant on its effective operation.

We are therefore inquiring into the following and related issues:

  1. The EU first proposed an entry/exit system for the Schengen Area in February 2008. How have proposals for its introduction developed over the last 15 years?
  2. Are there currently any other domestic or transnational systems either planned or in operation that are similar to EES?
  3. The EU’s Entry/Exit System was initially due to be introduced in 2022. What challenges do the EU and its Member States face in ensuring the full introduction and effective operation of EES?
  4. What challenges will ‘third country’ (non-EU Member State) ports and operators face servicing destinations in the Schengen Area when EES becomes fully operational?
  5. How will EES affect the travel experience of third country nationals?
  6. The EU is not planning to allow registration for EES remotely—e.g. via a dedicated website or mobile phone application—or physically at a location away from London St Pancras, Dover or Folkestone (such as an EU or Member State facility in a major UK city).
    1. Is this approach justified?
    2. Would remote registration be justifiable for nationals of countries with comparable immigration and security standards to the EU?
  7. Juxtaposed UK/France(Schengen) border controls are in operation at London St Pancras International, Folkestone and Dover.    1. introduced in its current form, what challenges will EES present UK sites facilitating juxtaposed border controls?    2. Should special dispensation for remote registration or remote pre-registration for EES be provided for at these sites?
  8. In addition to EES, the EU plans to introduce a ‘European Travel Information and Authorisation System’ (ETIAS) in 2024. The UK’s ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ scheme will go live in November 2023.   1. What challenges does the introduction of new EU and UK electronic travel systems present for operators and travellers?   2. Should the UK EU and international partners prioritise interoperability between their respective systems?
  9. What steps should the UK Government be taking to mitigate potential disruption stemming from the introduction of EES for UK ports, operators, and passengers travelling to the Schengen Area?

The Committee is inviting interested parties to submit written evidence relevant to the above. We are especially keen to hear from bodies representing passengers and UK ports and operators serving destinations in the EU. The deadline for submissions is 12 January 2024. Evidence sessions will be announced in due course.

The Committee’s July 2023 evidence session on ‘EU Entry/Exit and the UK border’ can be watched here.

This call for written evidence has now closed.

Go back to EU Entry/Exit and the UK border Inquiry