Thursday, June 13, 2024

Cameron: Travel delays likely at Dover and St Pancras with post-Brexit bio scans

Must read

British travellers to Europe face “long delays” at “choke points” like Dover and St Pancras due to post-Brexit EU border controls due to come into force in October, Lord Cameron has warned.

The Foreign Secretary said he was worried about the introduction of the new Entry/Exit System (EES), which will require photographs and fingerprints to be taken from UK and other non-EU nationals on their first visit to the bloc from 6 October.

MPs have already been warned that the new system could cause queues of up to 14 hours at Dover and may require Eurostar to cap passenger numbers from St Pancras.

Cameron said the issue was so serious it is often second only to Ukraine during his meetings with EU foreign ministers and that he had raised it personally in talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The UK is pushing for the EU to allow Britons to enter their biometric data through an online app away from the border to avoid the need for time-consuming physical checks as they travel through ports like Dover and St Pancras, where there are so-called juxtaposed controls where French passport checks are undertaken before travellers leave for Europe.

Part of the argument being made by British ministers is that there could be a “big hit to French tourism” if the new system causes delays.

Cameron told the European Scrutiny Committee: “I literally raise it everywhere I go from President Macron to [former] foreign minister [Catherine] Colonna, to her replacement Stéphane Séjourné, I’ve raised it with [Maros] Sefcovic [the European Commission vice president], I raise it with everyone from the Commission I ever meet.

“Because I think we have made some progress… but it’s still worrying because we do have these quite big choke points at Dover and St Pancras and I’m really worried about there being long delays for people.”

Cameron said the UK was “in a sprint” to do everything to prepare on this side of the Channel, including setting up areas at Dover and St Pancras for travellers to input their data, while warning the EU’s technology had previously been “found wanting” when tested.

Pressed on whether the UK was pushing for another delay in the scheme, which was originally slated for 2022, Cameron said he would “diplomatically” say that the best thing to do is prepare as much as possible while continuing to warn the EU of potential problems.

“Do everything we can, but keep having that conversation because ultimately it’s their technology, it’s their system and if it’s not working properly it would be a big hit to French tourism and everything else,” he said.

“In my talking points, whenever I go and see a European foreign minister, after Ukraine this will be point two or three.

“It really does matter, we’ve got to get this right.”

Latest article