UK citizens travelling to Europe face a huge change in the rules in October, yet only one in three know about it. While those with residency status in the EU and Monaco will be exempt from the new requirements, everyone else will have to provide fingerprints and have their facial features digitally recorded as of October 6.

So great is the threat of chaos and huge queues that a French minister has called for the new rules to be postponed, yet again, even though the date of October 6 was artfully chosen to coincide with the end of the UK school hols and the Paris Olympics plus a few weeks.

The chief official in charge of security for Eurostar, Simon Lejeune, told the Observer newspaper that the operator has the right set-up in place. Almost. Using language unbefitting of a gentlemen, he said: “We’re confident 6 October won’t be a shitshow because of the work that’s going in.” In other words they are nowhere near ready for the new regime. The Observer’s correspondent pondered that travellers may come to the conclusion that staying home to watch Emily in Paris or Ratatouille might be easier.

The scale of the problem for cross-Channel train travellers is exemplified by the fact that delays under the current system of ‘wet-stamping’ of passports trains are leaving only partly occupied.

The number of French immigration booths at St. Pancras will be doubled, from nine to 18, but, well, best not to book a Paris hotel in advance, because you might not make it the same day.

The biggest shitshow – I have never aspired to gentleman status – will be at Dover, where the white cliffs prove a formidable barrier to physical expansion and an increase in French border control booths, which are often mainly empty depending on French state holidays, whether it’s lunchtime, and the latest condition of Anglo-French relations.

Vera Lynn pulled at the heartstrings of so very many during the unpleasantness of 1939-1945, but my take is that there will be more Blue Words than Blue Birds on October 7 as frustrated British motorists hoping to make a late ‘getaway’ after the school holidays will be expected to spend nine minutes each going through the protocols. A car of four times nine is, well, 36 minutes per vehicle, unless they have more than one booth open.

The queues will have to snake back to outside the House of Commons for anyone to take any notice, and where in any case Prime Minister Starmer is assured to keep on ignoring the very large elephant in the debating chamber.

But surely air travellers will have no problems? Ahem, when the French travel minister warns of possible civil unrest and disturbance to public order at French airport arrivals, any remaining confidence evaporates.

“I cannot say that we are not working hard to ensure that we are as operational as possible,” Patrice Vergriete told the French National Federation of Aviation and its Trades (FNAM) conference, adding… “but I fear problems,” the Daily Telegraph reported. He said he had asked for another delay in the implementation of the European Entry Scheme, but thought it unlikely to be granted.

Lord Cameron took time off from flying around the world and being ignored by adding his own tuppence-worth. He’s on record as saying that he is “really worried” about delays under the new EES. Strong language indeed.

Eurotunnel? Now it takes less than 60 seconds to process a car. Under EES, passengers will need to get out of their vehicles and use the e-gates. Travelling with a disabled passenger or a grumpy old man with a bad knee? One can only imagine.

Talking about the new measures, last word to the French transport minister: “We will do our utmost to be on time, and we are all aware that things are not going to run totally smoothly.”

Oh, and a postscript. This is only Episode One in the Shitshow series, because next year the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is supposed to come into force. This will require UK and other non-EU nationals to pre-register their data and travel intentions online and pay seven euros before setting out on their European getaways.

Wondering where I’ve been? I am currently somewhere in Central Europe negotiating EU residency.

Any views or opinions expressed by Jeff Daniels are his alone and not necessarily those of the publishers

PHOTO: Queues at Dover in the good old days of August, 2022 Reuters