Waiting Time for Travellers at EU Borders to Increase Substantially, Member States Assert

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Waiting times at the external borders of the European Union may increase once the Entry/Exit System (EES) becomes fully effective in May 2023, the Member States fear, according to a compilation of comments published by the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU.

Published on November 16, the compilation consists of answers from the Member States’ authorities responsible for the application of the EES system by May 2023 regarding the testing of the system they have done so far, the obstacles they have encountered and their expectations.

The document has shed light on the fact that many of the Member Countries have found that border processing times at the external borders will increase due to the procedures that each traveller will have to go through in order for their data to be stored in the EES, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

It is estimated that control times for passengers will increase significantly by the introduction of EES,” the German authorities notes, while adding that at some airports in the country, it will be necessary to increase capacities for border checks, in particular during peak travel times.

A similar answer has been given by the Austrian authorities as well, who claim that the waiting times at the borders will be twice longer than currently.

The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times. Currently, we expect process times to double compared to the current situation. This will also affect the border waiting times at the border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” they claim.

In addition, it has been asserted by the same that border control will become more complicated once the EES becomes effective, as the border guards will have to differentiate between visa-exempt and visa-subject travellers.

Whereas according to calculations by the Polish authorities, the time for going through border control of a single passenger will increase by 30 seconds to two minutes if additional activities are not required, such as identity management.

The Slovenian authorities, in the meantime, claim that the new process, which includes border check, enrollment, and verification, will take four times longer than the current procedures.

However, due to the infrastructure being what it is and cannot be changed (most BCPs are in such locations that widening the BCP area, introducing more lanes, etc. is not physically possible and is not funded by the EU), we are going to deal with prolongations of waiting time,” they claim, adding that quality information campaigns in the EU and third countries would help alleviate the situation.

Most of the Member States, however, have confirmed that they are already working on the automation of border controls through the installation of e-Gates and self-service kiosks. Italy, for example, plans to install about 600 kiosks, which will be spread at every airport, in particular in those affected by significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic.

The Entry/Exit System (EES) is a new scheme that has been established by the EU, and it will serve to register entry and exit data of third-country nationals crossing the external borders of Member States. Through it, the EU intends to strengthen and protect the external borders of the Schengen Zone and increase security.

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