The number of travellers to and from the Schengen area is rising every year. Current manual checks of their passports are neither efficient nor safe. The establishment of a modernised system of checks at Schengen borders for third country nationals was adopted today by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
Commenting on two new EU laws (the Smart Borders Package) introducing the new system of border checks, Agustín Díaz De Mera García Consuegra MEP, the European Parliament Rapporteur, said: “The Entry-Exit System will facilitate border crossings and eliminate waiting times during border checks. Another advantage is that the system will help identify terrorists and record their travel histories within the Schengen area. Thanks to the new checks, we will better combat the irregular migration of people exceeding a legal period of stay.”
The Regulation establishing an Entry-Exit System and determining the conditions for access to the system for law enforcement purposes, and the related Regulation which specifies the technicalities of the use of the Entry-Exit System will establish a new electronic system of registration of travellers to and from the EU. Fingerprints, facial images and the date of entry and exit of all non-EU citizens who are admitted for a short stay in the Schengen area (maximum 90 days in any 180-day period) will be stored. Currently, passports of non-EU citizens entering and leaving the EU are only manually stamped in order to indicate the dates of entry and exit. These stamps can, however, be hard to read or are even easy to counterfeit. The electronic system will therefore modernise the monitoring of travellers to the EU. Moreover, national security forces and the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol will have access to the data while investigating crime and terror threats.
“The most useful tool we have in the fight against organised crime is our ability to be prepared. We will nevertheless not compromise the protection of the personal data collected. Our priority was not only to comply strictly with EU rules on data protection, but also to make the new system interoperable with the EU Visa Information System. By combining data from both systems, less personal data of travellers will have to be taken for each of the systems and the duplication of personal data in the two systems will therefore be avoided”, added Agustín Díaz De Mera García Consuegra, EPP Group Spokesman.
The two laws together create a revised Smart Borders legislative package introduced in 2013. The revision will modernise the Schengen border management in order to improve security in the EU. Reports on the two laws will serve as a mandate for the European Parliament for trialogue negotiations with the Member States and the European Commission.