New European regulations cause airport delays
A measure adopted by the European Council in April of this year is aiming to enhance immigration checks made at border control for those entering and exiting the Schengen Area. The amendment obliges all member states to carry out “systematic checks…on all persons, including those enjoying the right of free movement under EU law” (European Council). These checks are to take the form of increased security whereby the details of passengers from non-Schengen countries (including the UK) are cross-checked with various databases, to alert the authorities in case of a threat.
So what has been the result for British vacationers? As citizens of the largest of the six EU members outside the Schengen Area, those travelling to and from the Schengen Area during the busy summer months have suffered considerable delays and waiting times of up to four hours, according to Airlines For Europe (A4E). British Airways and Easyjet have both issued notices to customers warning them that passengers who did not arrive at the airport significantly earlier than usual could face problems, while Ryanair is currently advising customers to arrive at least three hours before departure. Airlines feared delays would be particularly serious for those flying to and from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium, where some airports have suffered an increase in flight delays of over 300% compared to last year. The situation has been compounded in recent weeks, as travel figures soared throughout July and are predicted to continuing rising into August, as a record 2.4 million people left on vacation in the first weekend of the school holidays.
Despite accusations from a spokesman for Ryanair that the delays are the fault of member states and not airlines, EU Security Commissioner Julian King remarked that, since the system of checks was approved in 2016, “National border agencies and airport authorities have had lots of time to prepare and put in place the necessary arrangements and staff.” The European Commission has further responded to these criticisms by describing the delays as “the price of security”. The regulations have raised fears not only for the state of airport delays when the regulations are fully implemented in October, but also for the future of the annual British exodus to sunnier climes once the UK’s departure from the European Union translates into law.