Border chaos looms as app delayed for UK-EU entry system

The EES scheme, which requires non-EU passport holders to register biometrics, is set to begin on 6 October, but the launch of the pre-registration app is uncertain.

Flags of UK and EU

Concerns are mounting over potential border chaos between the UK and the EU as an app designed to streamline passport checks will not be ready to implement the European Union’s Entry-Exit System (EES). Eurostar CEO Gwendoline Cazenave disclosed the delay, indicating that the railway service intends to install additional kiosks at London’s St Pancras station to manage passport checks effectively. The EES scheme, set to commence on 6 October, requires non-EU passport holders to register fingerprint and facial biometrics with a mobile application to ease pre-registration and avoid lengthy border queues.

While Eurostar aims to reassure passengers about the app’s impending deployment, other border crossings, including the Channel Tunnel operated by Getlink, are preparing for potential disruptions. New processing areas will be constructed at Folkestone and Calais to accommodate the scheme’s requirements. However, the Port of Dover faces significant challenges due to high traffic volumes and limited space, with concerns raised by Kent County Council leader Roger Gough and Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister regarding potential supply chain disruptions in the UK.

Why does it matter?

In addition to managing the EES rollout, the Port of Dover is grappling with the arrival of migrants in the UK, prompting discussions about implementing live facial recognition technology at migrant processing facilities in Kent. With record numbers of migrants crossing the English Channel, the situation has become politically charged, exacerbating the strain on Dover port. Despite efforts to enhance processing capabilities and implement new technologies, concerns persist about the ability of border staff to manage surges in migrant arrivals effectively, raising questions about security and operational efficiency.