HR Policy Global

BEERG Newsletter - Brexit: On the road to nowhere

Many of you will have seen TV footage and newspaper pictures over the weekend of long queues at Dover and the Eurostar as hundreds of thousands of British people – and many European citizens as well – waited to cross to France to begin European holidays or to return home. Many of the UK’s newspapers blamed the lack of French border officers for causing the delays but the French are entitled to staff their borders as they see fit, even if there is an economic cost in understaffing. 

The main reason for the delay was the need for border officers to stamp passports, which they did not have to do when the UK was an EU member. As citizens of a “third country”, British nationals are only allowed to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days in any period of 180. Multiple trips count towards the 90 days. The stamped passport shows the date of entry and the date of exit. Electronic systems may make the control process easier in the future, but for now it has to be done manually. The need to stamp passports means that the time it takes each car to pass through controls has increased from about 30 seconds to between 1 and 2 minutes. Backlogs build quicky especially as the infrastructure was designed to deal with the old procedure.

In the short-term it is likely to get worse as biometric controls are introduced, similar to airport scans. This will require people to get out of their cars, something they do not have to do at the moment. Obviously, the new controls will apply to business travel as well. We have already had reports of long queues at airports as UK travellers are no longer allowed to use the “EU Citizen” lanes. 

For a comprehensive overview of where the law now stands, see this blog post from Professor Steve Peers 

Published on: July 27, 2022

Authors: Tom Hayes

Topics: The UK and European Union

Download BEERG Newsletter Issue #26 2022 as a PDF

Tom Hayes

Director of European Union and Global Labor Affairs, HR Policy Association

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