Exclusive

'UK not ready and won't be' for new EU passport checks at borders, warns head of trade body

28 March 2024, 07:15 | Updated: 28 March 2024, 07:16

Brits travelling to the EU will need to have their fingerprints taken
Brits travelling to the EU will need to have their fingerprints taken. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Corr

The UK and France desperately need to find a "urgent political agreement" to manage new biometric passport checks coming in this autumn, the Head of Trade at Logistics UK has told LBC.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Thousands of holidaymakers will cross the English Channel bound for a European holiday this Easter break - but in a few months time travellers will face further passport checks predicated to cause ‘chaos’ at the Port of Dover and Channel tunnel.

The EU’s much-delayed Entry/Exit System (EES) is due to be introduced on October 6. This means non-EU passport holders, including Brits, will need to submit fingerprints and facial biometrics on their first visit to Europe and verification on each entry.

Processing times for cars at the border may increase from less than one minute to five to seven minutes - predicted to cause 14-hour delays on roads in Kent.

An app is being developed by the European Commission for passengers to register their details before reaching the border - but isn’t expected to be ready until summer 2025.

Industry officials are now urging politicians to reach an agreement with France while a digital solution is in progress.

Read more: Check your passport before booking holiday to stop post-Brexit rule from ruining trip, Brits warned

Read more: Brits warned of Easter weekend ‘carmageddon’ as 14 million journeys planned with double normal travel times

Head of Trade at Logistics UK Nicola Mallon told LBC the government needs to look at a ‘Windsor Framework style agreement’.

“1.6 million trucks go through the Channel Tunnel each year and Port of Dover - 2.4 million trucks go through that every year so you’re talking up to 10,000 HGVs going through Dover each day. It’s an incredibly important route,” she said.

“It’s now both in the UK and French governments and European Commission’s interest that we find a political agreement and joint solution for what is a unique and bespoke set of circumstances.

“We know if we look at the Windsor Framework which is a bespoke trading agreement in respect of Northern Ireland, the EU and the UK were able to find an agreement to facilitate a unique set of arrangements there.

“We’re urging that all involved take the same approach in n respect of the new Entry/Exit System and we find that workable model for the Short-Straits."

A policeman checks passports and vehicles at the entrance of the Channel tunnel in Calais, northern France
A policeman checks passports and vehicles at the entrance of the Channel tunnel in Calais, northern France. Picture: Getty

Local Council leaders have said they’re also extremely worried about the introduction of new checks this autumn.

Leader of Kent County Council Roger Gough warned: “We could see 14-hour delays, it could be longer - that’s just working off how long it would take to process passengers with extra checks.

“If there are other things going on at the same time maybe a strike or something with weather that would compound it and then that would be a very serious situation.

“On keeping Kent moving we’re actually keeping the country moving and if that’s disrupted it will have a big impact well beyond our borders.”

Eurostar passengers can avoid UK passport checks by having faces scanned

The Council Leader of Folkestone and Hythe Council Jim Martin said: “The changes are significant and that’s an understatement.

“Eurotunnel are spending £80m on this new system. We anticipate looming border chaos. It’s not a matter if this happens, it’s when it happens. This is a big problem and it’s coming down the track.

“This is also big problem for the rest of the country, getting goods in and out. If we have a couple of days of major problems - the whole country will feel the impact.”

A government spokesperson said: "The new Entry and Exit System is an EU programme overseen by the European Commission.

"The UK Government is working closely with the EU and member states to minimise any impact at our shared borders with Europe.

"We are working closely with the Kent Resilience Forum as well as with port authorities, ferry operators and industry to develop robust contingency plans to minimise the impact of delays when these new checks are introduced."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Bystanders react after witnessing the man lighting himself on fire

Man who set himself on fire outside Trump trial dies of injuries, police say

APTOPIX Indonesia Volcano

More than 2,100 people evacuated as Indonesian volcano spews clouds of ash

Sabrina Carpenter took inspiration from THAT scene in Saltburn for her outro for her song 'Nonsense'

Sabrina Carpenter makes 'Saltburn' reference about boyfriend Barry Keoghan in 'Nonsense' outro at Coachella

Iranian officials say the attacks, in the central province of Isfahan, were caused by small exploding drones

Israeli airstrike on Iran downplayed as tensions ease between Tel Aviv and Tehran

Azzarello was pictured outside the courthouse a day earlier with a conspiracy sign

Man who set himself on fire outside Donald Trump's hush money trial has died, police confirm

Venezuela Ecuador Mexico

Venezuela’s main opposition bloc agrees on candidate to challenge Maduro

Azzarello was pictured outside the courthouse a day earlier with a conspiracy sign

'Researcher', 37, set himself on fire outside Donald Trump's hush money trial in shocking 'political protest'

Matt Healy's family have spoken out amid speculation that one of Taylor Swift's new songs is about him.

'Nothing surprises him anymore': Matt Healy's family break silence over claims new Taylor Swift tracks are about him

Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner are said to be in talks for a documentary

Geri Halliwell and Christian Horner 'in talks to make fly-on-the-wall documentary' following 'inappropriate behaviour' row

An officer threatened to arrest the man for 'breaching the peace'

Met police apologise again after 'victim blaming' backlash over threat to arrest 'openly Jewish' man at march

Donald Trump in court

Full jury of 12 and six alternatives selected in Donald Trump hush money trial

Trump Hush Money

Police to review security at Trump courthouse after man sets himself on fire

Donald Trump

Trump’s hush money case to go ahead after judge rejects latest bid to delay

Mark Menzies

Police reviewing claims Tory MP Mark Menzies misused campaign funds to 'pay off bad people'

Trump Hush Money

Man in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside Trump courthouse

Paramedics attended to a person who lit themselves on fire near Manhattan Criminal Court

Horror as man sets himself on fire outside Donald Trump's hush money trial in New York