Following on from, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union address when he stated “We need to know who is crossing our borders. By November, we will propose an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.”
The European Commission has published a proposal to establish a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to strengthen security checks on visa-free travellers.
Nationals of countries who do not need a visa to travel to Europe, will still be able to travel without a visa but will have to apply for travel authorisation prior to their visit to the Schengen Area. The authorisation will cost €7 for each applicant over 18 years of age and will be valid for a period of five years and for multiple travels.
The key functions of ETIAS will be to:
- Verify the information submitted by visa-exempt third country nationals (such as information related to identity, travel document, residence information, contact details etc.), via an online application ahead of their travel to the EU’s external borders, to assess if they pose a risk for irregular migration, security or public health;
- Automatically process each application submitted via a website or a mobile application against other EU information systems (such as SIS, VIS, Europol’s database, Interpol’s database, the EES, Eurodac, ECRIS), a dedicated ETIAS watch list (established by Europol) and targeted, proportionate and clearly defined screening rules to determine if there are factual indications or reasonable grounds to issue or refuse a travel authorisation;
- Issue travel authorisations. In cases where no hits or elements requiring further analysis are identified, the travel authorisation is issued automatically within minutes after the application has been submitted.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Securing our borders and protecting our citizens is our first priority. ETIAS will close an information gap by cross-checking visa exempt applicants’ information against all our other systems. At the same time, the future ETIAS will be easy, quick, cheap and effective.”
Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “ETIAS is the missing link in our border management, connecting the dots with our migration and security policies and enhancing Schengen entry for at least 95% of visa-free travellers. Europe’s openness does not come at the cost of its security.”
Security Union Commissioner Julian King said: “Terrorists and criminals don’t care much for national borders. The only way to defeat them is by working together effectively. ETIAS will help do that: by spotting problem individuals and stopping them from coming, we’ll enhance Europe’s internal security.”
This new system is expected to come into force in 2020, and Airlines, ferries and bus companies will be expected to ensure all passengers have the correct documentation before travelling, as is the case with the UK Government’s Advance Passenger Information (Exit Checks). It is not yet known whether or not this will affect UK Nationals as no doubt it will be a subject that will have to be negotiated during the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
You can find more information on the European Commission’s ETIAS fact sheet