‘A game changer’: Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

Industry associations representing airlines have called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about new requirements to enter and exit the Schengen area.

'A game changer': Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers
New requirements for non-EU citizens to enter and exit the Schengen area are expected to begin at the end of 2023.Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the biometric data (finger prints and facial recognition) of non-EU citizens travelling for short stays to the Schengen area (EU countries minus Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), each time they cross the external borders.

Fully digital, the system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. The data collected will be kept in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

The EES was created to tighten up border security and will ensure the enforcement of the 90-day limit in any 180-day period for tourists and visitors. But it requires changes in the infrastructure at the external borders, including airports, and the setting up of a new digital infrastructure to connect authorities in participating countries.

Its entry into operation has already been delayed several times. The latest date for the EES launch was May this year, but last week European authorities decided to postpone it again “due to delays from the contractors”. It is now expected to enter into force at the end of 2023, as The Local reported this week.

Airline associations including European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the delay and said further preparations are needed.

“The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement says.

Things to be resolved include a “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by member states to ensure a sufficient number of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external border, particularly at airports,” and the “deployment of sufficient resources” to help airports and airlines with new procedures.

Airlines also said there needs to be a public communications campaign to inform non-EU citizens about the changes.

In addition, industry groups called on EU-LISA, the agency responsible for managing the system, to “strengthen communication” with airlines and with international partners such as the US “to ensure IT systems are connected and compatible.”

The decision to postpone the EES entry into operation until after the summer “will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve these issues and ensure the system is fully tested,” the statement continues.

The EU-LISA is currently preparing a revised timeline for the launch, which will be presented for approval at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the meeting of responsible EU ministers, in March 2023.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.

Member comments

  1. What is the plan for NATO forces? We don’t use our regular passports to enter and leave and we don’t have standard resident cards.

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Which Swedish roads are set to be busiest around Midsummer?

What are the peak traffic hours around Midsummer and is there anyway you can beat the queues? Here's The Local's guide to one of Sweden's busiest weekends of the year.

Which Swedish roads are set to be busiest around Midsummer?

What are the peak traffic hours?

Between noon and 6pm on Thursday, 9am-2pm on Friday and 2-6pm on Sunday.

Which roads are expected to be the worst?

The big motorways are expected to be busy. That’s for example the E4 motorway, which runs from Helsingborg to Stockholm and then all the way up the northeast coast.

Other typical bottlenecks are the E6 between Malmö and Strömstad via Gothenburg and the E22 between Norrköping and Kalmar, as well as the E14 between Sundsvall and Åre.

Roads leading to popular Midsummer destinations, such as Lake Siljan (or Dalarna in general), the roads around Lake Mälaren, and roads leading towards the archipelagos in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Bohuslän are also likely to be packed with holidayers.

See the map at the bottom of the article.

What can I do to avoid the queues?

The best tip is to avoid travelling during peak hours, but other than that, there’s not much, to be honest.

You could stay home or take public transport (which will probably also be busy), but neither is likely to be a realistic option for you this late in the game. If everyone on the road drives responsibly and respectfully, that’s the best way to avoid total gridlock.

If you’re considering alternative routes to avoid the motorway queues, think twice. Of course accidents could happen anywhere, but the major dual carriageways are generally safer than minor roads where you risk head-on collisions with overtaking drivers.

If there is an accident and you get stuck in a queue as a result, the motorways – at least one lane – are also likely to reopen to traffic faster than some of the smaller roads.

So the best thing is to allow extra time for travel, stick to the speed limit and put up with the queues. If that means driving slower than the speed limit, so be it. Don’t overtake for the sake of it. Bring good music and snacks in the car to make the journey part of the holiday.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drive while under the influence of alcohol (the drink-drive limit in Sweden is blood alcohol content of 0.02 percent or 0.10 milligrams per litre) and remember that you may still be over the limit the morning after drinking.

Tiredness is also a cause of dangerous driving, so make sure you get enough sleep and take plenty of breaks along the way. This is always important, but even more so on the way home on Sunday after a weekend of late nights and Midsummer revelry.

The map below, issued by the Swedish Traffic Administration, shows the roads that are expected to get the most traffic during Midsummer.