Dover: Holidaymakers discuss long queues for ferries
Every British traveller to Europe is facing the prospect of being fingerprinted and having their faces scanned in accordance with draconian post-Brexit rules being imposed by the European Union next year, MPs have warned.
UK citizens will also need to supply a long list of personal details before they even travel, including information about existing health conditions and where they plan to go on the continent.
The revelation came on a weekend which has seen lengthy queues building up at the Port of Dover even before the new regulations come into force – offering a glimpse of how things could look in the summer of 2024.
The EU Entry-Exit System (EES) – seen by many as payback for Brexit – is an automated system for registering travellers from the UK and other non-EU countries each time they cross an EU external border.
The bloc had wanted to introduce it this October, but it has now been pushed back until next year and could be in force as soon as May 2024.
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They will need to apply in advance for a visa-style permit in accordance with the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
All non-EU visitors will be hit with charges of €7 (roughly £6) and will be required to provide personal information online, including names, addresses, their state of health, criminal records, reasons for travel and the address at which they are planning to stay on the first night.
Decisions about whether to award permits will take anything from a few minutes to 30 days.
The proposals have major major implications for anyone from the UK planning to travel to the continent, especially via ports such as Dover, the Channel Tunnel terminal in Folkestone and Eurostar terminal in St Pancras station.
At peak times, 80 per cent of passengers would have to be processed through the system, Eurostar has admitted.
Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, told MailOnline: “The new European checks will soon be upon us. There needs to be an urgent plan to avoid chaos at the border when the new checks come in.”
David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West and a member of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, believes Brussels could alleviate the problems by permitting Britons to submit biometric data prior to travel and then getting it verified at dedicated facilities across the UK.
He explained: “This could prevent the queues at the ports. But the European Commission will have to bring legislative change for that. And it is the most intransigent bureaucracy in the world.”
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Committee chairman Sir Bill Cash added: “We have heard evidence that there will be queues if nothing is done. I urge all parties, the Government, the French government and the European Commission to find remedies and bring about the changes.”
Dr Ilia Siatitsa, a senior legal officer for Privacy International, branded the move a “Big Brother” measure, adding: “Any leak of this data, and it’s not like changing your passport.
“You can’t go and change your fingerprint or your face.
“Once data is collected, it can be repurposed, and its uses widened. This has happened in the past.”
Richard Christian, a spokesman for the Port of Dover from which 11 million people a year travel to the continent, also voiced his concerns.
He explained: “We are very space-constrained If we don’t have the regulation changed, then it will be a lot more difficult for us to be able to deal with the process… it will make it lot slower.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We understand the concerns of British travellers and the sector around the EU’s new travel requirements and we are liaising closely with European partners to ensure their plans do not cause unnecessary delays for Britons travelling abroad.
“We are also working with the French Government, port authorities and operators to ensure there is minimal disruption.”
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