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BREXIT

‘We’re ready’: Border checks to return as EU completes no-deal preparations

Brussels said on Monday it had completed its preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit on April 12th as it emerged British travellers to the EU will need to get their passports stamped if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement.

'We're ready': Border checks to return as EU completes no-deal preparations
Photo: Deposit Photos

The EU Commission said on Monday that it is “increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on April 12th” – the deadline for the UK to leave the EU unless a deal is a passed or Theresa May comes up with a plan B.

But Brussels insists it's ready for all eventualities saying on Monday that it had “completed its “no-deal” preparations.”

“While a “no-deal” scenario is not desirable, the EU is prepared for it,” a statement from the Commission said on Monday.

“The EU has prepared for this scenario and has remained united throughout its preparations. It is now important that everyone is ready for and aware of the practical consequences a “no-deal” scenario brings.”

“In a “no-deal” scenario, the UK will become a third country without any transitionary arrangements. All EU primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the UK from that moment onwards. There will be no transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. This will obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses.”

The Commission also confirmed that Brits would be allowed visa-free travel to the EU for a period of 90 days in any 180 period if the UK also grants reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel to all EU citizens.

Nevertheless there would be extra checks.

“UK citizens will no longer be citizens of the European Union. They will be subject to additional checks when crossing borders into the European Union. Again, Member States have made considerable preparations at ports and airports to ensure that these checks are done as efficiently as possible, but they may nevertheless cause delays.”

According to the Guardian newspaper the commission released an information notice on Monday saying: “Your passport will be stamped both when you enter the EU and when you leave it, so that this period of 90 days, which is visa-free, can be calculated.”

The commission also confirmed that British travellers would lose their right to access to healthcare through the EHIC cards and mobile phone users would have to pay roaming charges in future.

To read the full statement from the commission CLICK HERE.

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘We will be ready’ vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

Transport bosses have raised fears of long queues in British ports when the EU's new EES system comes into effect next year, but French border officials insist they will be ready to implement the new extra checks.

'We will be ready' vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

The EU’s new EES system comes into effect in 2023 and many people – including the boss of the Port of Dover and the former UK ambassador to France – have raised concerns that the extra checks will lead to travel chaos on the UK-France border, and see a repeat of the long queues experienced last summer.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister told The Local that he feared “tailbacks out of the port and throughout Kent” because the new system could take up to 10 minutes to process a car with four passengers, as opposed to 90 seconds currently.

EXPLAINED What the EES system means for travel to France in 2023

But French border control have insisted that they will be ready, replying to questions from the European Commission with “Oui, La France sera prête” (yes, France will be ready).

French officials said they had already undertaken extension preparation and would begin test runs of the new system in French border posts at the end of this year.

document shared recently by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties, shows how countries are preparing. 

“France has prepared very actively and will be on schedule for an EES implementation in compliance with the EU regulation,” French authorities say.

“The French authorities have carried out numerous studies and analyses, in cooperation with infrastructure managers, to map passenger flows at each border crossing post… and evaluate the EES impact on waiting times,” the document says. 

However, despite the preparation, the French admit that long waits at the border remain a worry, adding: “the prospect of the impact of EES on waiting times at the borders worries infrastructure managers. The fact remains that fluidity remains a concern, and that exchanges are continuing with each border post manager to make progress on this point.”

The EES system is due to come into effect in May 2023 and will be applied at all EU external borders – find full details on how it works HERE.

However there has been particular concern about the France-UK border due to three things; the high volume of traffic (in total over 60 million passengers cross the border each year); the fact that many travel by car on ferries and the Eurotunnel (while the EES system seems more designed with foot passengers in mind); and the Le Touquet agreement which means that French border control agents work in the British ports of Dover and Folkestone and at London St Pancras station.

EES is essentially a more thorough passport checking process with passengers required to provide biometric information including fingerprints and facial scans – border checks will therefore take longer per passenger, and this could have a big effect at busy crossing points like Dover.

The UK’s former ambassador to France, Lord Ricketts, told The Local: “I think the EES, in particular, will be massively disruptive at the Channel ports.”

The EU consultation documents also revealed more details of how EES will work on a practical level for car passengers – those travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel to France – with border agents set to use computer tablets to gather biometric information like fingerprints so that passengers don’t have to get out of their cars.

READ ALSO France to use iPads to check biometric data of passengers from UK

Doug Bannister added that Dover agents were “awaiting an invitation” to France to see how the new systems will work. 

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