The United Kingdom Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee has raised concerns about the potential impact of the European Union’s Entry/Exit System on travel between the EU and UK. During a recent hearing, it was warned that travellers at the borders could face waits of up to 14 hours once the system is implemented.
The warning came after written evidence was presented by various parties, including the Ashford Borough Council, UKinbound travel trade association, Tourism Alliance, Eurostar, and Airlines UK. All parties expressed worries about the possible excessive waits and the impact it could have on the economy for local citizens, businesses, and travel.
The Ashford Borough Council particularly fears that travellers could be forced to wait up to 14 hours at the Port of Dover if the scheme is implemented in October 2024 as planned. The potential impact on local communities, specifically the towns of Dover, Folkestone, and Ashford, was also highlighted in the evidence submitted by the council.
Eurostar, the high-speed train operator connecting London to Continental Europe, raised concerns about the EES being designed for airports rather than city-centre and space-constrained terminals. While it acknowledges the potential benefits of ending passport stamping, it believes the travel experience could become more complex for non-EU nationals or residents.
Airlines UK, which represents a number of airlines, sees long-term benefits in the system but advises UK border authorities to take a proactive role in creating awareness about the new system to minimize potential disruptions.
After considering the presented evidence, the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, Sir William Cash, acknowledged the potential impact of the EES on tourists, travel operators, and local businesses. He urged the UK to be aware of the future implications for the Port of Dover.
Overall, the concerns raised during the hearing highlight the need for careful planning and consideration as the EU and UK navigate changes to travel procedures. It is clear that the implementation of the Entry/Exit System will require close attention to minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth travel experience for all.
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