Published On: Fri, Aug 4th, 2017

‘Flawed’ EU policy means thousands of Brits facing holiday chaos at airports, says MP


Passport queuePA/GETTY

The travel chaos faced by Brits this summer is thanks to ‘flawed’ EU policy, says Charlie Elphicke

Passengers have been enduring airport queues of up to four hours due to tougher passport checks to combat terrorism. 

To make matters worse, a heatwave has pushed temperatures to roasting point across southern Europe and led to official health warnings. 

The passport checks have been imposed on travellers entering and leaving the EU’s Schengen area which stretches from Sweden to Spain. 

The UK and Irish Republic are not members of Schengen so their citizens face checks on leaving or entering the zone. 

Within the zone there is free movement, which potential terrorists have repeatedly exploited. 

Dover’s Tory MP Charlie Elphicke said the system of tougher checks on the Schengen frontiers was “missing the point”. 

It was the complete lack of checks within the Schengen zone that let terrorists travel at will across the continent to commit atrocities. 


It looks like the EU has missed the point on these security checks

Tory MP Charlie Elphicke


Members of the Islamic State gang which murdered 130 in Paris in 2015 included French and Belgian citizens who were able to travel freely between the two countries. 

The perpetrator of last December’s Berlin Christmas market attack, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri, was shot dead four days later in Italy after travelling across Europe. 

Mr Elphicke said: “It looks like the EU has missed the point on these security checks. 

Charlie ElphickeREUTERS

People with passports from countries outside the Schengen have faced long delays

“The atrocities in Europe have come from within the Schengen area not from outside. 

“What the EU should be addressing is the security weaknesses of the Schengen open borders system rather than having tougher security checks on the Schengen borders. 

“It looks like British passengers are being inconvenienced by a flawed policy.” 

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former head of the Cabinet Office CounterTerrorism team, said: “Obviously the authorities should be worried about who is coming in from outside Schengen

but it is a bit of a joke to impose undue restrictions on people from the UK yet let other people move freely around Europe. 

“The control of Schengen’s internal national borders is a major problem. But these open borders are a sacred cow for Brussels. Unfortunately they are also a Trojan Horse which lets terrorists move freely across Europe, attack and get away. 

“The EU has got its priorities wrong. I suspect that this is partly paying us back for Brexit – which will be counter-productive.” 

David Campbell Bannerman, Tory MEP for the East of England, said: “The real problem with Schengen is within it, not at its edge. 

Charlie ElphickePA

The Tory MP for Dover claimed the European Union had missed the point by not focusing on Schengen

“The real danger is that it allows undesirables including terrorists to move freely without any checks or hindrance right across the Schengen area. We saw this with the Paris attacks while the Berlin truck murderer was only caught by chance after having travelled freely to Italy. “Schengen is a charter for terrorists. It makes life very easy for them because they can operate across national boundaries.” 

Criticism of the border control policy came as airlines told passengers to turn up at least three hours before their flights to make sure they got through security checks. 

Airports in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Belgium have been affected. 

Lobby group Airlines For Europe warned that the queues could lengthen this weekend with 10 million passengers expected to pass through European airports on one of the busiest weekends of the year. 

Some airports, such as Mallorca, are predicted to experience double their usual demand. 

At Barcelona’s El Prat airport yesterday the problem was compounded by a strike by security staff which led to three-hour queues. 

Jenny Drury, from Manchester, tweeted: “Finally arrived back in England eight hours later after hideous delays in Barcelona airport.” 

Earlier this week Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary blamed the chaos on a failure to ensure there were enough staff to carry out the tougher passport checks quickly. 

Barcelona queuesGETTY

The European Commission have insisted countries were given time to prepare

He added: “Why are these new and more onerous passport restrictions on outbound flights? If people are leaving your country, what is the problem?” 

Aviation minister Lord Callahan has told his European colleagues Britain supports stronger border security but not at the expense of British tourists. 

He said: “I hope it’s just teething problems. We are in contact with other governments across Europe to do all we can to mitigate the problems and to make it easier for people who are trying to enjoy their hard-earned break abroad.” 

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva insisted member states had had plenty of time to prepare for the new rules.


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