Waiting times have already dropped at Lisbon and Faro airports, minister says
More than 82,000 border checks at air borders and over 11,400 at maritime borders were carried out on Sunday, the first day after the extinction of Portugal’s border authority SEF which saw PSP, GNR and PJ police take on new duties.
According to the Minister of Internal Administration, José Luis Carneiro, the control of maritime borders by GNR police was incident-free, while at air borders, 11 people were placed in facilities described as similar to temporary installation centres.
Said the minister, these people “did not meet the conditions required to enter the Schengen area, which shows that the security conditions also worked effectively”.
The minister spoke at Gago Coutinho Airport in Faro during a visit to acknowledge the work of staff from SEF, which was dissolved on Sunday, and PSP police during the transfer of responsibilities between the two institutions.
Between midnight and 10am on Sunday at Lisbon Airport, the average waiting time for passengers undergoing checks was 30 minutes, a reduction to one-third of the average waiting time.
Meanwhile at Faro Airport, 79 flights and a total of 13,128 passengers underwent checks by 8pm, with an average waiting time of 10 minutes, which was “the shortest waiting time since operations began at Faro Airport,” the minister stressed.
The explanation for these shorter waiting times is simple: there are more people – around 90 – working at the border controls, the minister explained.
The minister said that having more police agents deployed to border control will not affect security in other areas, having stressed that 2,500 new agents were admitted to PSP and GNR police in 2022.
“This year, we will admit another 1,500. A few days ago, 580 new police officers finished their training, and another 500 will enter training in November. This reinforcement of human resources is also related to the goal of strengthening resources at air, maritime, and land borders,” Carneiro said.
The event at Faro Airport was also attended by Faro Mayor, Rogério Bacalhau; the National Director of PJ Police, Luís Neves; and the National Director of PSP Police, José Barros Correia.
SEF was dissolved at midnight on Sunday, with the Agency for Integration, Migration, and Asylum (AIMA) taking over administrative matters related to the issuance of documents for foreigners.
SEF’s responsibilities are being transferred to seven organisations, with police functions going to the PSP, GNR, and PJ, while administrative matters related to foreign citizens will be handled by the new agency and the Institute of Registration and Notary Services (IRN).
A Border and Foreign Coordination Unit will also be established, operating under the jurisdiction of the Secretary-General of the Internal Security System, with some inspectors also being transferred to the Tax Authority.
AIMA, which is taking on around 300,000 pending immigrant legalisation cases from SEF, will also succeed the High Commissioner for Migration.
The restructuring of SEF was decided by the previous government and approved in Parliament on November 2021, having been postponed twice.
SEF was established in 1986 and was a security service integrated into the Ministry of Internal Administration.