Fast-track Portugal? If only…

Simon Calder, often known as The Man Who Pays His Manner, has been writing about journey for The Impartial since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key journey difficulty – and what it means for you.

St George’s Day introduced a tweet from Lord Frost that can absolutely gladden the guts of each English traveller (in addition to these from Wales, Scotland and Northern Eire).

You would possibly recall his lordship negotiated the Brexit deal by which British residents turned “third-country nationals” topic to all method of restrictions on journey to the European Union.

In his social media publish, Lord Frost welcomes what he referred to as “a really welcome and wise determination by Portugal to permit travellers from the UK to make use of e-gates”.

Lord Frost features a hyperlink to an article within the Day by day Telegraph headlined: “Portugal to deal with British travellers as EU residents at borders to chop airport queues.”

(Some individuals would possibly do a double-take at what seems to be a gesture of nationwide sovereignty of the type that we have been led was unattainable underneath the domination of Brussels, however let’s learn on.)

“Portugal has damaged ranks to grow to be the primary EU nation to defy Brexit by treating British holidaymakers the identical as EU residents at its borders.”

Evidently, then, fools like me who had warned of a drastic enhance in trouble when heading for Europe after Brexit have been flawed. You, me and Lord Frost can apparently now fly to Portugal glad within the data that we are going to not be held up at passport management a second longer than we did whereas the UK was a part of the EU.

“The Portuguese authorities has opened its e-gates to British travellers, enabling them to be fast-tracked seamlessly with out having to queue for hours for guide checks, as beforehand required underneath Brexit,” we’re instructed.

If solely this have been true.

Third-country nationals arriving within the Schengen space have to be stamped in, individually and manually, by frontier officers. At current it’s the solely method for border guards to evaluate whether or not British guests have stayed greater than 90 days in 180 within the EU – one of many guidelines that the UK introduced upon itself.

Two weeks in the past, my delayed British Airways flight to Milan arrived simply behind the Airbus A380 carrying many tons of of passengers from Dubai. I queued for over a hour whereas EU residents breezed by means of in seconds.

As nations comparable to Cyprus have beforehand accomplished, the authorities in Lisbon seem to have made an operational determination to ease the queues by automating one a part of the method – matching the individual and the doc – earlier than an officer stamps the passport.

However they can’t make a coverage determination to deal with “British holidaymakers the identical as EU residents at its borders”. The must be stamped out and in stays.

Sure, it’s a ridiculously analogue process, and is because of be outdated – probably later this yr – by the automated EU Entry/Exit System (EES). However for now British arrivals, not like European Union residents, should current their passport for processing to a human being.

Lord Frost provides in his tweet: “It’s price declaring, maybe, that we already enable all EU travellers to make use of our e-gates when arriving within the UK.”

Being a member of the European Union confers many benefits. Don’t take my phrase for it; forward of the 2016 referendum, the yet-to-be-enobled Mr Frost mentioned: “It’s within the UK’s nationwide curiosity to remain a part of the EU.

“I don’t suppose that we should always come out of it.”

Given the tangle of pink tape and lowered alternatives introduced in by the vote to depart and subsequent withdrawal settlement, I believe many British travellers will agree with that view.

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