Port of Dover chief warns of future disruption as new EU border system looms

Thu 13 Oct 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Port of Dover UK - Future borders

The Port of Dover could face another summer of disruption with the new EU border Entry/Exit System (EES) set to be introduced in May 2023.

Doug Bannister, chief executive of Europe’s busiest ferry port, told Parliament’s transport select committee that the port has not received enough information about the system and called on the government to share the “rules of the game” on post-Brexit checks.

“We need to see what the technology is going to be like and [we need] a sufficient amount of time to trial, test and train to use that technology before implementation,” he said.

The Brexit withdrawal agreement made the UK a ‘third country’ with strict controls on entry and exit, reports The Independent.

Biometric checks

All non-EU passport holders will need to have their biometric data – including fingerprints and photos – registered the first time they enter one of the EU member states. 

Tougher border checks will apply to British passport holders next summer.

Trials of the technology will take place this month, with Dover authorities attending a demonstration, reports ITV.

Five times longer

Questioned about the new checks on passengers without an EU passport, Bannister said the process could take as long as ten minutes for each vehicle, compared to the two minutes at present.

He appeared before the committee to answer questions about travel disruption last summer, reports Kent Online.

Traders were caught up in 11-hour queues during the disruption, as covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update at the time.

Contingency plans

Asked what steps have been taken to avoid chaos returning, Bannister said he anticipated that Dover would have an earlier warning if French officials – who provide juxtaposed border checks at Dover – were unable to man to appropriate resource levels.

“Then we can enact any of the contingency plans on our side to try and do the traffic management,” he said.

Last summer’s delays were attributed to a lack of French border officials, although other factors were blamed.

Border plan

“If the border gets sticky, it backs up very, very quickly,” said Bannister.

The Telegraph quotes a travel industry source who said: “Implementation hasn’t gone smoothly. It was supposed to start around now but they have had to postpone as a number of countries were not ready. The back-office IT hasn’t been put in place yet so it can work.”

The Home Office told City AM it was working with all stakeholders “to make sure passengers are prepared and do not experience unnecessary delays at the border due to new entry and exit system checks being introduced next year.”