The United Kingdom government is planning to introduce a new system, which would oblige travellers to obtain a travel authorization before crossing the Irish border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The requirement would apply to all travellers except for Irish and British nationals. European Union citizens would also be affected by this requirement, which resembles the United States’ ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), as well as to EU’s on-the-make ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System).
According to the Guardian, the system is planned to be completed and effective by 2025.
Commenting on the creation of such a system during a meeting with the House of Commons Northern Ireland, immigration minister Kevin Foster said that that the travel authorization will be a document obtained online through simple procedures. He also noted that the paperwork would not be checked at the UK border.
“We don’t operate routine immigration controls through the common travel area,” he said.
The idea, however, has faced backlash by Ireland’s part, which believes that the creation of which system represents a “hardening of the border”, which both the UK and the EU have tried to avoid since the beginning of the Brexit negotiations.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who serves as a Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Ireland’s government, found the idea concerning, though he claims that it “doesn’t come as a huge surprise.”
“We’re certainly going to communicate to our UK counterparts our concerns and our objections to this measure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise,” he said.
Politicians from Northern Ireland at the UK’s House of Commons have also objected the idea, including here the Member of the UK Parliament, Stephen Farry, who said that the scheme would create “new bureaucracy” and “legal uncertainty” for thousands of people.
The idea to create an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) has been discussed often amongst UK politicians since Brexit. On May 26 this year, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that it was planning to create the scheme as part of efforts to tighten border controls.
“We will have a far clearer picture of who is here and whether they should be, and we will act if they are not,” UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the time.
The EU, on the other hand, is set to introduce a similar system next year, known as the ETIAS. The ETIAS is also a travel authorization, which the nationals of third countries under the Schengen visa-free regime will have to obtain in order to enter the Schengen Area countries, including here British nationals.