Europe admits airport waiting times will increase massively once fingerprint system is in place

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Even though we are still months away from Europe’s long-awaited border reforms, authorities are already predicting a ‘Massive increase’ in waiting times at entry points from 2023. Next year, new arrivals who do not need a visa will have to apply for a new travel permit and have their fingerprints taken when crossing the external Schengen border.

border control

Schengen is a passport-free zone of Europe which currently includes 26 different countries, whether they are members of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Getting around is as easy as going from one US state to another: there are no identity checkand people are allowed to freely roam the country as if they were traveling within the country.

He is one of Europe’s greatest achievementsas well as one of its biggest weaknesses, at least when the bloc faces transnational crises:

A sharp increase in waiting times at European borders is expected

Long queue of passengers at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Netherlands

Hoping to protect Schengen and strengthen checks on third-country nationals after a traumatic 2015, Europe has been preparing for years to introduce a new Entry and Exit System, or SEE, which will see all foreigners seeking to enter the territory to register upon arrival. . This is to provide fingerprints and other sensitive information.

The EES will help ensure that unchecked migrants in Europe are identified and dealt with, and that “overstayers” are swiftly punished. In accordance with Schengen rules, non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can only stay in the borderless zone for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. A non-EU national staying for more than 90 consecutive days is breaking immigration law.

High angle view of young woman with backpacker in Strasbourg, France

This means that those who break the rules will be caught the second they enter or leave Schengen, as their biometric data will be stored by Frontex, the agency responsible for European border security, for the same purpose. On the other hand, the entry-exit system will cause longer delays at bordersat least during the initial registration period.

European nations weigh

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EU flags in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Europe

One of the first to test the system, the Czech Republic reported an average processing time of just 89 seconds, but other recent reports from other EU members have been much more disturbing. In a revised “Comments Compilation” regarding the implementation of SEA, different countries expressed unanimous opinion that longer delays are unavoidable.

Germany, for example, has acknowledged that ‘screening times’ for passengers will ‘significantly increase’ during the deployment of EES. This was corroborated by their neighbor Austria, whose response reads: “we expect processing times to double compared to the current situation‘. In the Balkans, Croatia, a Schengen candidate, expressed its pessimism:

Zagreb, capital of Croatia, Southeast Europe

They “repeatedly” tested fixed and mobile equipment at the borders in preparation for the SEA and established ‘the waiting time for border controls will certainly be much longer‘. The 45-page document also includes comments from Portugal, France, Italy and other European tourist hotspots favored by Americans.

This is the first time Members of the EU have spoken candidly about their expectations of the SEA, and while we appreciate their honesty, this is unlikely to reassure tourists that the European tourism sector is indeed prepared for such drastic changes after the chaotic year he’s had. Based on these results, we can expect another summer of travel disruption in 2023.

Why is the entry-exit system implemented?

Passengers queuing to check in plane at airport

The Schengen Agreement has come under scrutiny in recent years for its role in undermining European security. After all, the nations participating in the pact have agreed to abolish passport control among themselves, and while this is great for trade and promoting freedom of movement, it is certainly not a perfect and infallible system.

During the 2015 migration crisis, the removal of border controls across much of the EU contributed to the uncontrolled movement of undocumented migrants across the continent, as once they crossed a Schengen border, they can, in theory, travel to other countries in the zone hassle-free.

Train officer holding a walkie-talkie, train inspection, train journey

As a result, several Schengen countries have since established temporary controls with their neighbours, citing irregular migration flows as a major concern, in a bid to regain some sovereignty over national borders.

It’s clear Schengen must be strengthened and revised border policies to adapt to the current political climate.

Fingerprints aren’t the only thing Americans should be prepared for

American traveler holding up two US passports as he uses his computer, booking a plane or checking in for a flight

Besides the installation of EES check-in kiosks, which will be operational from May 2023, the continent is rushing to launch its new European travel information and authorization systemabbreviated as ETIAS, in November 2023. In a year, Americans traveling to Europe will have to fill out an online form and pay a €7.00 fee before leaving.

ETIAS will be valid for up to three years, and the fee is only collected on the first application or renewal of the permit. The requirement applies not only to Americans, but all tourists who benefit from a visa-free agreement with the EU, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico. Needless to say, those who do not hold a valid ETIAS will be denied boarding.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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