In the context of the Brexit negotiations, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson clashed with Brussels in an 11-hour attempt to prevent British passport holders from having to stay in European airports for hours at a time. greater turnout, as is the end of the year.
The government insists that UK citizens’ continued use of automatic e-gates used by EU citizens at Eurostar airports and terminals be validated.
The change is seen by the European Commission as an attempt to keep the British on the fast track in the post-Brexit period, instead of having to pass long lines like so many other travelers.
The government points to studies that suggest that the loss of access to automatic gates and the need for extra passport checks can delay the British by an extra hour, whenever they travel through some European airports.
The issue was raised in the ongoing trade and security negotiations, and the government has already established some contacts with several Member States in an attempt to maintain access to ‘e-gates’.
The commission insists that granting such a right to British citizens would violate EU law. “The Schengen border code is restrictive in this regard”, is detailed in an internal EU document, to which the publication had access.
However, the Commission called on the representatives of the Member States to discuss “the treatment of UK citizens at the Schengen borders” after the issue was raised by the British negotiating team.
This team had already asked, on October 12, whether the ‘e-gates’ could be opened to UK citizens with biometric passports. The commission replied, “No, EU legislation currently has reservations on using ‘e-gates’ for EU / EEA / CH passport holders.” The acronym CH is the country code for Switzerland. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are part of the European Economic Area (EEA), but not the EU.
The United Kingdom allows citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore and South Korea to use biometric passports to pass through automatic gates upon arrival. The government, in a document on the post-Brexit operational model at the UK border, which “will ensure that EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can also continue to use electronic passport doors”.
But a sign of EU intransigence on this issue could lead to the restriction of European travelers as a form of retaliation. Therefore, this question will remain open.
The commission informed member states that ‘e-gates’ can be used when a UK citizen is leaving their territory, but not at the entrance. The Member State that wants to do differently, will have to have a national entry-exit system and the British citizen’s passport will need to be stamped, reducing the benefits of using automated border control.
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