British tourists to face 14-hour queues to enter Europe under new scheme, MPs told

Huge queues extend back from the Port of Dover. Credit: PA

Tourists heading to Europe could be stuck in traffic gridlock at border controls under a new scheme, MPs have been told.

More than 14-hour queues at the Port of Dover are a “reasonable worst case” scenario if the new plan is implemented as planned in October, Ashford Borough Council told Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.

Under the EU Entry-Exit System, people entering the EU will have to register their fingerprints and a photograph alongside their passport.

Tourist organisation Visit Kent voiced concerns that delays caused by the new system could have a knock-on effect on local businesses, which has been the case during previous periods of disruption.

Huge queues have been seen stemming from the Port of Dover and surrounding roads over the past few years, with post-Brexit checks adding to waiting times.

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Ashford Council warned that 14-hour delays at the port will likely see queues along the A20 and M20, which could block access to staff and tourist traffic at Eurotunnel in Folkestone.

Eurostar said without upgrades, terminals could see queues of more than an hour at peak times.

High Speed 1, which runs UK high-speed rail services, said the decision not to enable online pre-registration would “put enormous pressure on infrastructure at St Pancras International”.

Downing Street downplayed the likelihood of such lengthy delays.

“I’m not aware of that being something that will happen,” the prime minister’s official spokesman said.

Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, Sir Bill Cash, said: “Queues of more than 14 hours, vehicles backed up along major roads, businesses starved of footfall: this evidence paints an alarming picture of the possible risks surrounding the Entry-Exit System’s implementation.

“Clearly, this policy could have a very serious impact, not only for tourists and travel operators but also for local businesses. I implore decision makers on both sides of the Channel to take note of this evidence.

“The scheme is due to be implemented in October this year; the clock is ticking, and these issues must be urgently addressed.”

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