Malta Could Be Left Out of Schengen for Not Implementing Entry/Exit System, Maltese MEP Warns

The authorities in Malta have only now started to work on the preparations for the implementation of the European Union’s Entry/Exit System (EES), which is foreseen to start functioning across the block on October 6, 2024, and according to Maltese politician Peter Agius, it may already be too late.

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Agius, who is a Member of the European Parliament from the Nationalist Party says the government has started ‘last minute’ preparations which may cost it with suspension from the Schengen Area, Schengen.News reports.

It appears that our country has left the implementation of a European law that had been agreed on six years ago till the last minute, so much so that a few days ago there had still not been a contract for the purchase of the new equipment that is required to replace existing systems at the airport.

Maltese MEP Peter Agius

He claims that representatives of the EU Commission have confirmed for him that there is a ‘real risk’ for Malta to be left out of the Schengen Zone, if the same does not successfully put up in place the electronic system for the operation of the Entry/Exit System by October 6.

Maltese Govt Working on a Temporary Manual System for EES Implementation

MEP Agius also revealed in a statement on Wednesday, July 3, that the government is working on a temporary manual passport control system, to make up for the delayed electronic one, for scanning fingerprints and verifying passports.

According to him, putting such a manual system in place would cause unnecessary delays for travellers.

All of this indicates a lack of seriousness. The freedoms and rights we acquired through our accession to the European Union requires the Maltese Government to do its part. We have never been in a situation where our freedom of movement in the Schengen area was imperilled because government entities did not complete their work on time.

Maltese MEP Peter Agius

He has pledged to continue requesting the EU to keep him updated on the matter, while urging the Maltese government to do the same.

Government of Malta Aware It’s Too Late With the EES Preparations

Previously in June this year, the Maltese Home Affairs had admitted that it was too late with the preparations for the EES.

In a reply to Newsbook Malta, the government had admitted it would fully adjudicate a pending tender for the remaining stages around the middle of June. It had also pointed out that the Police Force “had to urgently seek a new EES-compatible system” after there had been no interest in the initial tender.

The national authorities are keeping constant communication with the competent EU authorities, including contingency plans as followed with other Member States. Technical experts are all hands-on deck to adhere to agreed timeframes…to have a new system in place and connected that meets the EU’s EES criteria by the stipulated deadline.

Government of Malta

The Entry/Exit System is an automated IT system for registering travellers from third-countries every time they enter and leave the EU borders. The system was designed in a bid of the block to enhance security in its territory and prevent irregular migration.