Strengthening security checks at Europe’s borders

A common electronic system to speed up checks at the Schengen area’s external borders and to register all non-EU travellers was backed by European Parliament.

The new Entry/Exit System (EES) will register information on non-EU nationals, such as name, travel document, fingerprints, facial image, date and place when they enter, exit or are refused entry into the Schengen area. It will apply both to travellers requiring a visa and to visa-exempt travellers admitted for a short stay of 90 days, who cross the Schengen area’s external borders.

EES would make it easier to check that the authorised duration of a short stay – 90 days in any 180-day period – is respected.

The system will replace the manual stamping of passports and speed up border crossings, while making it easier to detect over-stayers and document or identity fraud.

Data storage

  • Data will be retained for three years and for overstayers for five years
  • Data stored in the EES can be consulted to prevent, detect or investigate terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences

Access to the data

The new system will register various data and share the information with external border check points to stop illegal entry and track over-stayers.

  • The information stored in the new system will be accessible to border and visa authorities
  • Data will be also available to Europol
  • National asylum authorities will not have access to the EES

Bulgaria and Romania to take part in EES

The EES will be operated by the member states which apply Schengen rules in full or member states that do not apply Schengen rules in full, but for which, inter alia:

  • The Schengen evaluation has been completed and
  • passive access to Visa Information System (VIS) has been granted.

Rapporteur Agustín DÍAZ DE MERA said “The Entry/Exit System will allow for quicker and safer border crossings. It will also help to detect terrorists and other criminals hiding behind a false identity.”

Next steps

The draft law, already informally agreed with member states, was approved by 477 votes to 139, with 50 abstentions.

EES is expected to be operational in 2020.

The proposal for an entry-exit system (EES) is part of the smart borders package presented by the Commission in April 2016.

The cost of the EES has been estimated at €480 million.