25th May 2022

EU's entry-exit system for travellers hit with delays

  • The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) promises to ease visa-free travel into the EU (Photo: Nelson L.)
Listen to article

The EU wants a new entry-exit system for screening travellers, known as Etias, up and running before the end of next year. The aim is to carry out pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of visa-exempt visitors.

But promises of extra security appear to be running into trouble amid a slew of delays, according to an internal EU document dated 20 October and drafted by the EU's police agency Europol. The agency also cites a number of "major risks".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Their plan is to automate cross-checking of travel application data against Europol data. Aside from running into "complex legal questions" on data access, the Hague-based agency has also been hit with recruitment delays.

It says it needs at least 48 extra operational staff to process hits against Europol data.

Recruitment should have already started so that new staff could start in the second half of 2022. Most would be required to manually process European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) hits against Europol data.

But Europol says that "no clarity on the allocation of additional resources to ensure the operation of Etias-related processes have been achieved yet."

As for the major issues, the document says differing data-sharing standards are posing difficulties. It says non-EU participating states like Iceland and Norway may have stricter regimes than EU member states.

"Europol can share the information, including personal data, but the process may be delayed or blocked," it said. As for the major risks, they involve EU plans to make data platforms and systems interoperable.

But Europol says there are too many parallel projects on interoperability, noting overlapping staff and lack of coordination. Such parallel projects "make it extremely challenging to achieve political deadlines," it noted.

It blames other delays linked to Covid-19, the business end, scalability of infrastructure, lack of interoperability and an "uncertainty about the future workload."

Frontex, the EU's border agency, will host its central unit with a network system vis-a-vis national authorities.

The Warsaw-based agency will be tasked to manually deal with authorisations that cannot be automatically treated after having been cross-checked by various security databases.

"That is something that will revolutionise border guard work," said the head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, earlier this year.

"It will be necessary that our own Frontex agents category one have total access to all databases of the European Union," he added.

Christmas travel disrupted by Omicron variant

The spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus has triggered a flurry of flight cancellations, hampering Christmas plans for millions of people.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us