The internal security of the European Union has consistently been an issue since the beginning of Jean Claude Juncker’s mandate as President of the European Commission. In his speech last September, Juncker announced that in November The European Travel and Authorisation Sytem (ETIAS) would be proposed as a future project. This involves an automated system which will enable its operators to determine who is permitted to fly to the Schengen area.
What is ETIAS? ETIAS will be an automated system created to identify the risks associated with visitors who are exempt of a visa and who travel to the Schengen area. All citizens of third countries exempt of a visa who plan to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for authorisation before starting their journey to the EU. The information gathered with the system, completely respecting the fundamental rights and regulations applying to data protection, will allow for the verification of potential security risks to the Union as a whole and its citizens.
The final decision on whether to allow or refuse a third-country citizen entry will be assigned to national border guards, who monitor the borders in accordance with the Schengen border code, having checked that such third-country travellers are exempt of a visa. In a nutshell, ETIAS will identify those who may pose a security risk for the EU as a whole before they enter any of its borders.
At the same time, ETIAS is designed to operate in unison with existing systems, like the Entry and Departure System. It will also be able to operate with information systems to be consulted by the ETIAS, like the Visa Information System(VIS), the database of Europol, the Sytem of Information Schengen (SIS), Eurodac and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).
ETIAS will provide key information necessary for the authorities of the member states to take preventive action before a potentially dangerous citizen to the security of the Union gets to the external borders of Schengen; it will improve the detection of the traffic of human beings (especially in the case of minors); it will address the problem of criminality on the borders and will facilitate the identification of people whose presence in the Schengen area could pose a threat to the Union’s security.
The member states and Europol will have access to ETIAS, under strictly defined conditions such as prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist-related activities or other serious crimes. This access will only be allowed in specific cases and only after consultation of the penal database of the nation and the Europol database. All consultation applications of the data stored at ETIAS will be subject to a process of verification, which will be carried out by a tribunal or an independent authority.
ETIAS is built on the foundations of existing information systems (EES, SIS, VIS, Europol, Eurodac and ECRIS). The development and application of EES and ETIAS will be applied together and parallel to ensure that costs are significantly reduced. The cost of the development of ETIAS is estimated at 212.1 million Euros and the average annual cost of operations is calculated to be 85 million Euros. ETIAS is expected to be completely operative by 2020.