New EU entry system delayed until 2024 in possible boost for UK leisure and tourism sectors

Wed 19 Apr 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Two Eurostar trains idling in St Pancras station London

The EU’s entry/exit system (EES), planned for use in November this year, has now been pushed back until 2024 at the earliest.

The Independent reports that due to an issue with a database on which the EES was reliant, the deadline for implementation has now been extended after a meeting of EU border officials in Stockholm.

An official announcement is expected later this year, in June, with the latest deadline expected to be after the Paris Olympics.

More delays

This is not the first time that the system has been delayed, iNews notes, as it was supposed to come into effect in 2022 originally. This new change is the fourth launch date for EES.

The accompanying Electronic Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) is also expected to be delayed. This would have seen travellers charged a flat €7 fee for non-EU members to enter the EU.

The EES would have removed the time-consuming need to stamp passports, instead relying on biometric data, while Etias was meant to electronically track entrants into the Schengen area.

Both systems were built to reduce time spent at the border.

Concerns raised previously

As previously reported by the IOE&IT Daily Update, officials from EU member states such as Germany and Austria had raised concerns about EES.

There were fears that the new system could cause delays in the short term, as well as warnings from officials over fraudulent websites imitating the real version being used to scam visitors.

The news comes as a boost to the UK’s tourism and transport sectors, which had flagged the potential negative impact of the introduction of EES.

Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover, had said the issue would have brought “challenges” that he was not yet confident would be solved.

Travel services

The system was cited by Eurostar as a reason to cut the St Pancras-Marne-la-Vallée route, which directly linked London to Disneyland Paris.

MyLondon reports that from 7 June there will be no more trains on this route until the end of the year, representing a blow to the UK’s travel sector.

It is not immediately clear whether the EES news will impact this decision.

Cancellation on the Orient Express?

The Orient Express – the historic route that has since been turned into a luxurious travel experience run by prestige hotel group Belmond – has announced it will not be serving the UK leg of its journey due to fears over UK border transit.

According to EuroNews, Belmond is removing the London-Folkestone section of the trip from 2024 onwards, citing the risk of “travel disruption” to its guests.

Railway transport site RailTech says that the decision is a “significant blow” for the UK’s “developing rail-based leisure, and Kent tourism”, as well as for the relatively small station of Folkestone itself.