Committee launches inquiry into EU Entry/Exit and the UK border
6 November 2023
The European Scrutiny Committee launches a new inquiry into the EU Entry/Exit System and its potential consequences for the UK’s border.
The EU’s proposed Entry/Exit System (EES) will replace manual passport stamping with an automated IT system, to record when travellers enter and exit the Schengen Area.
The EU says this new system will help to enforce rules within the Schengen Area, including that travellers cannot stay for more than 90 days within any 180 day period. It could be in operation as soon as the Autumn of 2024.
But as the scheme is currently planned, travellers will be unable to register remotely ahead of travel. At UK ports operating ‘juxtaposed’ border controls – where EU checks are completed on UK soil as at St Pancras Station and Dover, to streamline checks on the other side – operators say this could cause significant disruption.
Sir William Cash, Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, said:
“The Committee had been keeping a watching brief on this issue but the scale of potential disruption became apparent to us on our visits to the Port of Dover and Folkestone earlier this year. We quickly realised that this under-appreciated issue was one that deserved detailed scrutiny.
“In July, the Committee heard alarming evidence from port operators, who said that the scheme could cause issues for cross-Channel transport. This inquiry will shed light on how the EU’s Entry/Exit System could affect tourists bound for the EU and businesses dealing with the UK border.
“Any change to the operation of borders is likely to cause disruption, but we find suggestions that day-trippers would have to leave their cars to complete checks, among other problems, alarming. It’s imperative that the Committee conducts a thorough and open investigation.”
“That’s why we’re calling on people with expertise and experience in the field to give evidence to the inquiry, to better inform our deliberations.”
The Committee welcomes written evidence submissions before 17.00 on 12 January on any of the following subjects on the Committee’s website:
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).
a. Is this approach justified?
i. 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.
a. If introduced in its current form, what challenges will EES present UK sites facilitating juxtaposed border controls?
b. 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.
a. What challenges does the introduction of new EU and UK electronic travel systems present for operators and travellers?
b. 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?
Each submission should be no longer than 3,000 words and contain a brief introduction about the author. Submissions should be in malleable format such as MS Word (not PDFs) with no use of colour, logos or photos. Further guidance is available here:
Image: UK Parliamentary/Tyler Allicock