Dover: Holidaymakers discuss long queues for ferries
Addressing the Commons’ European Scrutiny Committee in Parliament, John Keefe, the chief corporate and public affairs officer at Getlink, the company operating the Channel Tunnel, expressed apprehension about processing passengers in cars and coaches under the European Union’s Entry/Exit System (EES).
The launch of the EES has faced delays, leading to speculation that it might not be enforced until after the Paris Olympics in the summer of 2024.
The system is expected to require travellers from non-EU countries, including the UK, to undergo fingerprint scanning and photographing for registration upon their first entry into an EU member state.
One of the main concerns is the potential for long queues at Dover for train and ferry passengers, as border checks for those entering the EU will be conducted there before their cross-Channel journeys.
Unlike air travel, where passenger details are taken upon arrival at destination airports.
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Dover’s Port is already dealing with queues during peak periods due to enhanced post-Brexit checks by French border officials, making the possible implementation of the EES an additional challenge.
Mr Keefe said: “This scheme was designed for airports, quite simply without any consideration for the nature of transport that happens across the Channel.
“For a one ticket, one seat, one person approach in a large indoor environment where there is space to put both kiosks for the data capture and also additional space for border officials, it’s easy.
“Where it struggles is when cars drive through large open spaces – car parks – in all weathers, in all lights, at all times of the day or night.
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“The data capture has to look at individuals who are deep inside a vehicle. That then becomes very complicated.
“The scheme is not designed for the purpose it’s being addressed to. It’s designed for comfortable airports in EU territory.”
Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister, who has previously warned EES could increase the time it takes to process a car from around 90 seconds to 10 minutes, described EES as a “critical” issue which could affect “the health of the nation”.
He told the committee: “Half of our freight traffic is destined north of London. It is impossible to imagine levelling up the country if the Short Straits is not working well.
“This new regulation that’s coming in has got a potential large strategic impact on the health and prosperity of the nation.
“That’s why we feel it is so important.”
Mr Bannister added that in the past six months “demonstrable progress” has been made by Government officials showing a “willingness to engage” with France and the EU Commission in an attempt to minimise disruption from EES.
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