National authorities have started imposing harsh security checks on everyone entering and leaving the European Union’s free-travel Schengen Zone.
The move is part of a wide security crackdown in an attempt to prevent a repeat of deadly terror attacks across the Continent.
Anyone who flies in or crosses a land of sea border will have their identity cross-referenced across numerous databases in a bid to stop future attacks.
Travellers will be checked against Schengen Information systems and Interpol’s database of lost travel documents as part of the improved security measures.
Europeans are facing long border queues as security checks are tightened
We waited at the Croatian border for an hour and a half and the Slovenian border for an hour and a half
The EU’s counter terror coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said: “We still have a stock of 2,500 Europeans who are on the ground in Syria and Iraq and we don’t know how many, at what rhythm, and on which routes they will return here.”
Julian King, the EU commissioner for security, told MEPs in March a fingerprint system is needed to catch people who use fake IDs when crossing European borders.
Plans are underway to include an automated fingerprint identification service that will allow border guards to search databases and prevent the use of false IDs.
However, the new checks have caused a huge backlog at borders leaving travellers fuming as they face queues as they travel across Europe.
Speaking to Euronews, one traveller lamented the new restrictions, labelling them a “disaster”.
He said: “It’s a disaster. I have two disabled people in my car – they need to go to the bathroom and have nowhere to go.”
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Another said: “We waited at the Croatian border for an hour and a half and also at the Slovenian border for an hour and a half.
“That’s three hours altogether. We are waiting with two small children in the car.”
Alexandra Popescu, a spokeswoman for the Romanian border police said: “If they find that one of these people, or the document presented at the border crossing point, appears in the database with a warning note that person is invited to the second queue, where border police officers will donut further detailed verifications.
“The procedure will not affect the fluidity of passenger traffic.”
Meet Hungary's border hunter police Thu, March 9, 2017
Border Hunter Police in Hungary undergo rigorous training, including assembling pistols blindfolded, and judo
REUTERS 1 of 19
Hungarian border hunter recruits learn judo moves
The checks, which are already imposed on non-EU nationals, will now also extend to EU citizens.
Border authorities are hoping to relax some control checks in the event of heavy traffic and a transitional period is also being imposed at busy airports.
The Schengen’s database is touted as the most successful EU-wide security database, with its use increasing from around 150,000 in 2015 to more than 200,000 last year.
Guards queried the database almost four billions times in 2015, a 40 per cent increase from 2015.