What Are the EES and ETIAS and Who Will Be Affected by the New Systems?

The EES is an automated information system for recording data on entries and exits to the Schengen area. It is initially aimed at all third-country nationals who enter the Schengen area for a short stay (maximum 90 days within a total period of 180 days) – regardless of whether they are subject to a visa requirement or not.

ETIAS is an electronic system for recording travel information and authorizing travel to the Schengen area. In the future, travelers will have to obtain a permit via the ETIAS system before entering the country. The authorization system is initially aimed at citizens from around 60 countries outside the European Union who are currently exempt from the visa requirement for entry into the extended Schengen area.

Purpose and Objectives of the Introduction of the New Systems

The background to the introduction of the systems is that they are intended to enable precise monitoring of entry and exit in order to increase security in the Schengen area. The introduction of these systems is intended to increase public security through the early detection of potential security risks and at the same time minimize the risk of illegal immigration. In order to improve internal security and support the fight against terrorism, law enforcement authorities are also to be given access to the recorded travel movements. In addition, border controls are to be made more effective through digital systems. Last but not least, risks to public health are to be minimized.

How do the Systems Work?

The EES uses self-service terminals to collect the necessary data from travelers at the borders of the Schengen area. Among other things, basic personal data, relevant travel movement data for entry and exit as well as biometric data are collected and stored. The system reads the required data and compares it with other databases to confirm identity and the remaining duration of the stay. The EES is intended to replace the current system of visa and stamp checks in passports.

The ETIAS permit must be applied for online before entering the country. This requires information on the applicant’s identity and contact details, details of the planned trip and information on any previous convictions. The ETIAS then automatically compares the traveler’s information with other European information systems. If no relevant matches are found that would prevent approval, the entry permit is issued within a few minutes. At the same time, a digital link is created with the respective travel document.

The permit is initially issued for a maximum of three years, with a maximum stay of 90 days. The fee for the entry permit will be approximately EUR 7.00. However, the entry permit does not replace the requirement for a visa. Nor does the issue of the entry permit constitute a final decision on whether a traveler will be allowed to enter the area. This decision will remain within the area of responsibility of the border patrol. 

Current Status of Implementation

The European Parliament adopted regulations on the introduction of the two systems back in 2017 and 2018. The national law implementing the EES Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 and the ETIAS Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 was announced in spring 2023. However, the new law will essentially only come into force once the systems go live.

Commissioning of the EES is currently planned at EU level for fall 2024.[1] The ETIAS is to be introduced a few months after the EES comes into force. The planned launch is currently estimated for mid-2025. Following the introduction, there will initially be a six-month transition period for the use of ETIAS, during which travelers without authorization will not be refused entry, provided they meet the other entry requirements.

Photo: Shutterstock / G-Stock Studio



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