EU Member States confirmed a political agreement secured by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU with the European Parliament on 29 June, which paves the way for the establishment of an EU Entry-Exit System. The new innovative IT border system is an important element of the of the EU’s Smart Border Initiative, and the Maltese Presidency’s focus, to greatly improve security in the EU.
Once it enters into force, the system will register entry, exit, and refusal of entry information of third country (non-EU) nationals crossing the external borders of the European Union. The deal fulfils the directions given by EU leaders at the European Council Summit in December 2016, where EU co-legislators were tasked with agreeing to the new system by the end of June 2017.
Commenting on the agreement, Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia, stated: “The entry-exit system is part of the EU’s efforts to strengthen the control of our external borders. It will allow us to better manage migration flows, in particular in cases of overstay, and improve our response to the current terrorist threat.”
The new Entry-Exit System will only apply to third-country nationals entering the EU, and will help:
- reduce border check delays and improve the quality of border checks by automatically calculating the authorised stay of each traveller;
- ensure systematic and reliable identification of overstayers, and those who no longer fulfil the conditions for entry;
- strengthen internal security and the fight against terrorism by allowing law enforcement authorities access to a travel history records.
The agreement reached on the final day of the Maltese Presidency is all the more significant given that Maltese officials managed to secure a Council negotiating mandate (known as a General Approach) on the file in March. Achieving both a Council position and an agreement with the European Parliament during a single Presidency is very rare, particularly on such a sensitive file.
Following the agreement reached on the political issues of the proposal for the Entry-Exit System, outstanding technical issues will be addressed by the incoming Estonian Presidency, with a view to having the system enter into force as soon as possible.