The EU Parliament gave its green light Thursday to a new travel information and authorisation system intended to screen criminals and terrorists before they arrive in the EU. It should be operational in 2021.
Currently, there is a lack of information related to people from countries that don’t require a visa when they travel to the EU. They are checked at the Schengen border where they arrive. The decision to allow or deny entry is made by border guards without knowing if the person is considered to be a risk. It is especially difficult when people arrive by land as the only info then is their travel document.
The new agreement establishes the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and strengthens the mandate of eu-LISA, the EU Agency for the operational management of large scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.
Under the new system, non-EU nationals exempt from visa requirements will have to get an authorisation before travelling to the EU. Similar models already exists in countries such as the US, Canada and Australia.
“Anyone who poses a migratory or security risk will be identified before they even travel to EU borders, while the travel of bona fide travellers will be facilitated,” Anyone who poses a migratory or security risk will be identified before they even travel to EU borders, while the travel of bona fide travellers will be facilitated,” said Migration Ciommissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Once operational, it will carry out pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travellers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area. When arriving at the EU borders travellers will need to have both a valid travel document and an ETIAS authorisation.
- Affordable, simple and fast: All visa-free travellers will need to request ETIAS authorisation prior to their visit to the Schengen area. Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases. Travellers will have to pay a one-off €7 fee (for travellers between 18 and 70 years old) and the authorisation issued will be valid for three years.
- Cross-checking of EU information systems: ETIAS will cross-check data provided by visa-exempt travellers against the EU information systems for borders, security and migration, including the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS), Eurodac, Europol and Interpol databases. If the cross-checked data matches with the EU databases, the application will be then manually verified by the ETIAS Central Unit managed by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
- Clear rules for refusals: In cases where authorisation is refused, the relevant national authority will have to inform the applicant about the decision or seek additional information within 96 hours. If additional information is provided, the national authority must then take a decision within four weeks of the initial application date. In case of refusal, applicants always have the right to appeal.
The upgrade of eu-LISA, the EU Agency for the operational management of large scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, will give the Agency the capacity and tools it needs to provide centralised operational management of EU information systems for migration, security and border management.
- Developing new systems: The strengthened eu-LISA will have a vital role to play in developing and maintaining new EU information systems for migration, security and border management, notably: the Entry Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
- Upgrading existing systems: The Agency will also be in a better position to maintain and upgrade existing systems, such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS) and Eurodac, for which it is already responsible.
- Ensuring interoperability: The reinforced Agency will be in charge of rolling out technical solutions to make sure these EU information systems interact efficiently and are readily accessible to police and border guards on the ground.
In 2020 39 million visa-free travellers from more than 60 countries are expected to visit the EU compared to 30 million in 2014. Etias has been developed to identify possible security concerns.
Following the Parliament’s green light, the legislation will have to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers and then published in the Official Journal. The aim is for it to be operational in 2021.