Britons face ‘huge queues for holidays’ as EU readies fingerprint checks

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The European Commission has outlined plans to introduce a new European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS) as well as an Entry/Exit System (EES) for non-EU citizens by the end of next year. The ETIAS scheme will require passengers to apply for permission to travel to the Schengen Area at a cost of €7 (£6).

The Schengen Area is made up of 26 countries and includes popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

The EES system forms part of additional security measures and will register the person’s name, type of the travel document and biometric data such as fingerprints and captured facial images.

The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel to raise concerns about the plans.

Peers warned under the EES system passengers “will be required to undergo border checks that are likely to cause sustained delays and disruption”.

The letter adds: “They could have serious consequences in the UK and for the rights and liberties of UK citizens, and the UK appears to be unprepared.

“Although the two systems are due to launch next year, several ethical, legal and logistical challenges remain unaddressed.”

The Committee urged the Home Office to work closely with the European Commission and increase public awareness of the plans.

Express.co.uk has contacted the Home Office for comment.

The ETIAS is an electronic system that will allow citizens from 61 countries – including the UK – to visit the Schengen Area – with pre-authorisation to travel rather than a full visa.

The visa-waiver scheme has been compared to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system used in the US – which allows citizens from 39 countries a 90-day visa-free stay.

But the EU system will be valid for three years or until an individuals’ passport expires.

The European Commission expects the new travel rules to be hassle-free for most passengers.

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It says: “After filling in an online application form, the system will conduct checks against EU information systems for borders and security and, in the vast majority of cases, issue a travel authorisation within minutes.

“In limited cases, where further checks on the traveller are needed, the issuing of the travel authorisation could take up to 30 days.

“The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a mandatory pre-condition for entry to the Schengen States.

“It will be checked together with the travel documents by the border guards when crossing the EU border.”

The scheme has been in the pipeline since a “Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security” report was published in 2016.

Britain ended freedom of movement after the end of the Brexit transition period.

UK nationals can currently travel to the EU without a visa and stay for up to 90 nights over a 180-day period.

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