ETOA calls for urgent reciprocal agreements to prevent airport queues

  • ETOA’s Brexit seminar on 22.1.2019 reported how a no-deal Brexit will mean UK visitors to Europe will be subjected to increased checks leading to 2-3 hour delays per aircraft

With a no-deal Brexit still possible, ETOA held a Brexit seminar on 22 January 2019. It called on the UK Government to drop any increase in formal checks on EEA arrivals at Britain’s airports and to ask for reciprocal arrangements. UK visitors to the EU must not be subjected to the same exhaustive entry checks as other ‘third country’ visitors.

Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA said: “Brexit means that the UK would be free to relax its border controls for practical purposes, but we desperately need a reciprocal – and formal – relaxation of controls by Europe. As it stands, in the event of a no deal, the EEA have an obligation to treat non-EU citizens in a specific way. These were laid out in a guidance document  notice on travelling between the EU and the UK following Brexit published on 13 November 2018. It could not be more explicit. UK nationals face formal checks on the validity of travel documents; a verification of length of stay; and disclosure on the purpose of visit and proof of sufficient means of subsistence.

“Such checks could increase immigration queues by 90 seconds per person.

“At airports on the continent, even with Heathrow levels of investment by their governments, we are looking at 2 or 3 hours of delay per aircraft from the UK into the EU. Some airports will hit capacity after two or three UK arrivals; there could be significant delays at the channel ports Not only will British tourists be caught up, but other third country nationals travelling to the UK and then onto the EU could also be badly impacted.”

“It is in no-one’s interest for these delays to occur, but on paper delays are what we are looking at: major delays. The Border Force struggles to impose full scrutiny on 9 million non-EU arrivals in the UK: it is beyond their ability to do so with an extra 26 million EU visitors. The government needs to explicitly state this and ask for reciprocity from the EU.”