This week, the European Commission announced its plans to launch the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). On the US’ ESTA model, it would grant access to non-EU citizens to the Schengen area without a visa for some countries in exchange for a €5 fee. The proposed authorization would cover around 30 million people who enter the EU every year from 60 visa-waiver countries, including, for example the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. An automated IT system will be created to identify any risks associated with a visa-exempt visitor travelling to the Schengen Area.
Reinforcing security in the EU
The Commission’s proposal to establish this scheme is the first item that has been delivered of the priorities for action identified in the Bratislava Roadmap, which in September set out clear priorities for the next 12 months. ETIAS will be managed by the new European Border and Coast Guard agency in cooperation with the Member States and Europol, and aims to reinforce security in the EU. Indeed, national authorities and Europol will have access to travelers’ data, in respect of fundamental rights and data protection, to assist in counter-terrorism investigations. Furthermore, it will provide information on security, irregular migration and public health risks prior to the arrival of a person at the Schengen border and thus help with closing existing security information gaps.
Not an EU law yet…
The scheme is expected to come into force in 2020, but ETIAS still has to get the approval from the European parliament as well as EU home affairs Ministers, so it could be amended before becoming EU law.