Changes to the EU’s screening system for people travelling without a visa

In a bid to identify any potential risks for those travelling into the EU, MEP’s have announced plans to adopt a screening programme. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) could be introduced as early as 2021 and will screen arrivals. The aim is to detect criminals, terrorists or anyone else who is considered to be a risk.

It’s been noted that the new screening system shouldn’t cause any major disruptions to travellers, in particular to those who make regular trips to the bloc. Kinga Gál, the Hungarian EPP who’s been pushing the proposals through parliament said in a recent statement: “It will be an easy process… just an online check, which they can do prior to travelling to the EU.”

What’s the current system?

There are currently over 60 countries where those travelling to the EU don’t require a visa and the number of visa-free travellers is increasing year by year. It’s estimated that in 2020, the figures will reach around 39 million, compared with 30 million in 2014.

There is currently a lack of information for individuals travelling from these countries and when checked at the Schengen border, guards have limited information to make a decision with. Etias has been developed to identify any potential risks; Canada, the US and Australia currently use similar models.

What will change going forward?

Once implemented, the screening system will mean that anyone travelling who doesn’t require a visa will need to fill in an electronic form. This will include personal information including their name, date of birth, nationality and gender; as well as other questions, like if they have a criminal record or have been present in a conflict zone.

Using this information, authorities will assess if the person could pose a risk before arriving at the Schengen border and if they do they could be refused entry. The authorisation will cost €7, be free for under 18’s and over 70’s and be valid for up to three years. The majority of applicants will be approved immediately; however, the final decision for entry will be with the border security team in the member state they arrive in.

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