EU Ambassadors Approve Electronic Travel Authorization System for Third Countries
The European Parliament representatives and the European Council Presidency have reached an agreement on the proposal for the establishment of a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). According to a press release published today on the official website of the European Council the agreement has been confirmed by the EU ambassadors.
As stated in this release, the Bulgarian Minister of Interior, Valentin Radev, assessed that this agreement is just another very important step in the protection of the external borders of the European Union.
“By knowing who is coming to the EU before they even arrive at the border, we will be better able to stop those who may pose a threat to our citizens,” Radev is quoted to have said.
ETIAS, which acronym stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System, is a visa waiver pre-screening program proposed to be created by the European Union for visitors wishing to enter this area. The main purpose of the establishment of such system is protection and strengthening of the EU external borders.
The European Council proposed the establishment of this program on June 2017, after a few years during which the European Union countries faced continuous terrorist attacks and immigration flows among others. The program is foreseen to start its implementation on January 2020.
It is a system very similar to the United States Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), while many other countries have established similar schemes.
Currently, the nationals of 62 non-Schengen area countries are allowed to enter the EU without a visa, for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
The next step to be taken in this regard, after the agreement has been confirmed by the EU ambassadors on behalf of the Council, the regulations will be submitted to the European Parliament. If the regulation gathers the necessary votes at first reading, then it will be passed to the Council for adoption.
ETIAS in a post-Brexit UK
After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in March 2019, and the ETIAS starts its implementation in 2020, Britons will most probably fall under the category of the countries the nationals of which will have to obtain an ETIAS before getting permission to enter any of the European Union member states.
Though it has been unclear how traveling of UK nationals to the EU will be organized in a post-Brexit Europe, few of the EU nationals have claimed that Britain will automatically fall under the category of third world countries, once it finally leaves the EU, which means the UK will fall under the ETIAS Europe Form. Whether this system will be applied to the UK or not, will only be known after it definitely leaves Europe, or about that time.
European Travel Information and Authorisation System
There are many countries who are not in the European Union (EU) whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Zone without needing a visa. Specifically, there are currently 62 countries who are not in the EU but are visa-free.
Citizens of these countries are allowed to go into countries in the Schengen Zone for business or travel purposes for up to 90 days. During these 90 days, these visitors are not allowed to work or study but can engage in business and tourism activities.
In addition, recent security concerns with terrorism and the migrant crisis have called for a better management of who is entering EU borders. The EU has continuously declared its goal of making travelling within its borders a more secure experience.
To reduce procedures and wait times, as well as address the security concerns, the European Commission (EC) has come up with a solution – ETIAS.
This article will contain all the information you need regarding this new system and whether you qualify for it.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system which allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose. The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS have started in 2016, and the system is expected to be in place by 2020.
The ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. Since citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries.
The ETIAS, besides being used for business and tourist purposes, will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. In addition, it will be mandatory for all countries who are Schengen visa-free.
Why ETIAS Authorization?
In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has said the following:
The main reason for the approval of the ETIAS authorization is security. With the increased risk of travelers worldwide, the EU wants to ensure safe travels in its countries. The ETIAS will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data gathering systems. What this means, is that the ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. This will lead to the person being denied entry and avoiding the threat from being present inside EU borders. It will basically deal with a problem before it is even there.
However, besides making travelling more secure, the ETIAS authorization will also assist the EU countries and all travelers in the following ways:
- Reduce procedures and application times
- Improve the management of EU country borders
- Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism
- Impede irregular migration
- Reinforce the visa liberalization policy of the EU