Even though the eagerly awaited European border reforms won’t take effect for another few months, authorities have already forecast a “massive increase” in entry-point wait times starting in 2023.
The outer Schengen border will now require arrivals without visas to apply for a new travel permit and provide their fingerprints.
Schengen is a European passport-free zone that currently includes 26 different nations, whether they are members of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Traveling within the Schengen area is as easy as traveling from one U.S. state to the next: there are no ID checks, and people can travel between countries as if they were traveling domestically.
It is both one of Europe’s greatest triumphs and one of its greatest flaws, at least when it comes to cross-national crises.
After a dramatic 2015, Europe has been preparing for years to create a new Entry-Exit System (EES) that will subject all foreigners seeking to enter the territory to undergo registration upon arrival. The goal is to defend Schengen and strengthen controls on third country nationals. This will require the submission of your fingerprints and other private information.
The EES will contribute to the swift punishment of “overstayers” and the identification and processing of unchecked migrants in Europe. Non-EU, EEA or Swiss nationals are only allowed to stay in the border-free area for up to 90 days out of 180 days under Schengen rules. A non-European citizen who overstays his or her visa by more than 90 days is breaking the law.
This means that anyone who break the law will be apprehended as soon as they enter or leave Schengen because Frontex, the organization in charge of securing Europe’s borders, will keep their biometric information for this specific purpose. The Entry-Exit System has the drawback of increasing border delays, at least during the first registration period.
The Czech Republic, one of the first countries to test the system, claimed an average processing time of just 89 seconds, but other more recent findings from other EU members have been far more worrisome. A updated “compilation of comments” on the implementation of EES expressed the unanimity of different nations that longer delays are unavoidable.
Germany, for example, has admitted that ‘control times’ for passengers will ‘increase significantly’ throughout the EES rollout. Austria, their neighbor, has confirmed this, saying, ‘we expect process times to double compared to the current situation.’ Croatia, a Schengen candidate, shared the Balkans’ negativity.
In preparation for EES, they have “on multiple occasions” tested both stationary and mobile technology at crossings and have determined “the waiting time for border checks will certainly be significantly longer.” The 45-page report also features commentary from Portugal, France, Italy, and other popular tourist destinations in Europe.