Maltese MEP Warns Malta Could Be Excluded from Schengen for Not Implementing Entry/Exit System

Maltese MEP Warns Malta Could Be Excluded from Schengen for Not Implementing Entry/Exit System


1. The Maltese government has just begun implementing the Entry/Exit System (EES), scheduled to start on October 6.
2. MEP Peter Agius warns that the authorities' delay risks Malta being excluded from the Schengen Zone if the EES is not operational on time.
3. The government plans to implement a manual EES process if the automated system is not ready.

The authorities in Malta have only recently started preparations for the European Union’s Entry/Exit System (EES), which is expected to be operational across the bloc by October 6, 2024. According to Maltese politician Peter Agius, it may already be too late.

Agius, a Member of the European Parliament from the Nationalist Party, criticizes the government's last-minute efforts, suggesting they could lead to Malta’s suspension from the Schengen Area.

"Our country has delayed implementing a European law agreed upon six years ago until the last minute. A few days ago, there was still no contract for the new equipment needed to replace existing systems at the airport," said Agius.

He claims that EU Commission representatives have confirmed a 'real risk' of Malta being excluded from the Schengen Zone if the electronic system for the EES is not operational by October 6.

Temporary Manual System for EES Implementation

MEP Agius revealed on Wednesday, July 3, that the government is working on a temporary manual passport control system to compensate for the delayed electronic system. This system would handle fingerprint scanning and passport verification, but Agius warns it could cause unnecessary delays for travelers.

"This indicates a lack of seriousness. The freedoms and rights we gained through EU accession require the Maltese Government to fulfill its responsibilities. We have never faced a situation where our freedom of movement in the Schengen area was threatened due to government delays," Agius stated.

He pledged to continue seeking updates from the EU and urged the Maltese government to do the same.

**Acknowledgment of Delays by the Maltese Government**

In June, the Maltese Home Affairs Ministry admitted the delay in EES preparations. In response to Newsbook Malta, the government said it aimed to fully adjudicate a pending tender by mid-June. It also noted that the Police Force had to urgently seek a new EES-compatible system after the initial tender received no interest.

"The national authorities are in constant communication with the competent EU authorities, including contingency plans as followed with other Member States. Technical experts are fully engaged to meet the agreed timeframes and ensure a new system that complies with the EU’s EES criteria is in place by the stipulated deadline," stated the Government of Malta.

The Entry/Exit System is an automated IT system for registering third-country travelers each time they enter and leave EU borders. It was designed to enhance security within the EU and prevent irregular migration.


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