France wants to delay new EU border system until after Paris Olympics

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
France wants to delay new EU border system until after Paris Olympics
Olympics rings are installed in front of the Paris City Hall during the "Olympics Day" organized by the the "Comite National Olympique et Sportif Francais " (CNOSF) to celebrate the upcoming of the 2024 Paris Olympics Games, in Paris on June 23, 2018. (Photo by LUCAS BARIOULET / AFP)

France wants to delay the entry into operation of the new EU border system until after the 2024 Paris Olympics to avoid "congestion" at airports and delays at border crossings from the UK, a European diplomat has confirmed to The Local.


The EU entry/exit system (EES) will require non-EU citizens arriving for short stays to register and have biometric data, including fingerprints, taken at the border the first time they enter the Schengen area.

The system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will collect the data of non-EU nationals each time they cross the external borders and store it in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

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


A number of countries last year admitted they feared delays and insufficient time to test the process. Industry associations representing airlines also called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about the new requirements.

After several delays, the EES was due to come into force in May this year, but in January it was decided to postpone it again. Although a new date was not set, the EU said it would be launched “by the end of 2023”. This timeline is now also in question.

Crowds for the Olympics

But could it be delayed until the end of 2024?

The French government would like the introduction of the EES to be postponed until after the Olympics taking place in Paris from July 26th until August 11th 2024.

With 10 million tickets up for grabs for events at the Olympics and thousands of athletes taking part the French have understandable concerns over possible travel chaos for the hordes of visitors set to descend on France for the sporting bonanza.

The fear is that activating the new system when a huge number of visitors will arrive in the France would cause congestion in airports, as about 10 minutes will be needed for the first-time registration of each non-EU citizen, an EU diplomat told The Local.

"This is our position and it's not just linked to (passengers coming from) the UK but also the risk of congestion at airports," said the diplomat.

EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers discussed the EES at their meeting on Thursday March 10th.

There has been no sign yet whether the French will be able to persuade other EU member states to delay the introduction for almost another 12 months.

But the diplomat told The Local that several EU member states have shown understanding for the French position.


After the March 10th meeting ministers concluded that “it was necessary and timely to consider alternative scenarios when assessing the timelines for the implementation of the interoperability architecture and of its underlying IT systems.”

They also agreed that the European Commission and the EU Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) should propose a revised timetable “at the latest for the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting of 8-9 June 2023.”

“Unfortunately we are experiencing delays and it is clear that the EES will not go live in May as planned. We will consider a new realistic timetable for its implementation in order to avoid further re-planning. Such a timetable will be presented by the Commission and eu-LISA in due time ahead of our next Council meeting in June,” said Gunnar Strömmer, Minister for Justice of Sweden, which holds the rotating EU Presidency this semester, at the press conference after the meeting.

The EES raised concern in the UK, with the Port of Dover’s CEO warning last year of possible 'tailbacks throughout Kent' for passengers trying to cross to France. A delay until after the Olympics would be no changes for travellers from the UK for the next two summers.

New border management

A delay of the EES will likely mean further postponing also the entry into of operation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will require non-EU citizens that do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area to pre-register before arrival and pay a fee of €7. In the original plan the ETIAS was due to go live this November, some six months after the EES, but was recently delayed to 2024.

As part of new EU border management measures, however, the upgraded Schengen Information System (SIS) entered into operation on 7 March. This provides information on wanted or missing persons, non-EU citizens with no legal right to stay in the EU and lost or stolen objects, including identity documents.

“Together with the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), SIS will be part of the interoperability architecture”, the European Commission said.

This article was produced in combination with Europe Street news.


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