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UPDATE: EU postpones launch of EES border entry system once again

The EU has announced that its EES border system - which includes taking biometric data from non-EU visitors - will be delayed once again from its planned start date of May 2023.

UPDATE: EU postpones launch of EES border entry system once again
Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

Schengen countries are set to tighten up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens.

The new system, which will require non-EU travellers to register and have biometric data including fingerprints taken at the border, was due to come into force in May 2023 after already having been pushed back from 2022.

But this week it was announced – perhaps to no-one’s surprise – that the system will not be ready by May. Although a new date has not been set the EU now says it will be launched “by the end of 2023”.

According to the travel site TTGmedia.com which first revealed the delay, the decision was taken at an EU meeting in Tallinn last week.

It was agreed the May 2023 target “was considered no longer achievable due to delays from the contractors”.

Stakeholders, including airports and port authorities on the northern French coast, should continue to prepare for a target launch date “within the end of 2023”.

“In particular, border crossing points should be fully equipped for the use of the Entry/Exit System by the end of the year,” read a summary of the meeting.

A new more detailed timeline for the rollout is expected to be revealed in March.

The Local had previously reported in November how governments across Europe feared the new checks will cause long delays at borders – particularly at the UK-France border, where the boss of the port of Dover predicted “tailbacks throughout Kent”. 

What is the new EES system?

This doesn’t change anything in terms of the visas or documents required for travel, or the rights of travellers, but it does change how the EU’s and Schengen area’s external borders are policed.

It’s essentially a security upgrade, replacing the current system that relies on border guards with stamps with an electronic swipe in/swipe out system that will register more details such as immigration status.

It is for the EU’s external borders, so doesn’t apply if you are travelling between France and Germany for example, but would apply if you enter any EU or Schengen zone country from a non-EU country eg crossing from the UK to France via Channel Tunnel or flying into Germany from the US.

It will apply when entering all EU member states, apart from Cyprus and Ireland, as well as four non-EU countries in the Schengen Area: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Travellers will need to scan their passports or other travel document at a self-service kiosk each time they cross an EU external border. It will not apply to foreign residents of EU countries or those with long stay visas.

When non-EU travellers first enter the Schengen/EU area the system will register their name, biometric data, and the date and place of entry and exit. Facial scans and fingerprint data will be retained for three years after initial registration.

The system will digitally track the number of days non-EU citizens spend in the union to ensure people do not overstay the permitted 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen area.

Also due to come into effect in 2023 is ETIAS – this will require tourists to register in advance for a visa and pay €7. This is due to launch in November 2023, and the EU has so far not announced any change to this date.

Member comments

  1. I’m concerned about this as I have found my fingerprints are difficult to recognize. Don’t know why, but I’ve had to be “re-fingerprinted” at the Questura a couple of times. When getting my FBI report in the USA, my fingerprinting exercise took hours.

    This was due to the small, portable readers being unable to confirm my prints time after time after time after time. Expert staff had to be called in and I stood a good chance of having to forego any business associated with fingerprinting.

    This will be – if the equipment isn’t top-notch and the operators skilled – a nightmare. I’m guessing I’m not the only person in the world with prints that are difficult to read. Hope they allow for odd circumstances similar to mine for identifying entrants into the EU.

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For members

STRIKES

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers are once again set to face serious disruption as Italy will experience a new round of transport strikes in February. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel to, from and across Italy was disrupted by dozens of strikes in January

And, while many travellers might have hoped for a change in the trend, strikes are set to continue into February as Italian unions have already announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services as well as airline travel.

Here’s an overview of February’s main strike actions, including a national public transport strike on Friday, February 17th and another nationwide walkout from airport ground staff on Tuesday, February 28th.

Public transport

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) to protest against precarious work and “wild privatisation” attempts on the part of the Italian state.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action. As such, the amount of disruption travellers should expect on the day cannot be estimated yet. 

Air travel

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout in question will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

Rail

February 5th-6th: Calabria-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. Any information regarding the strike will be released on the following website page

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 19th: Veneto-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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