Smart Borders Package improves EU border management

The EU is preparing a Smart Borders Package that will improve internal security by helping to identify people who overstay on EU territory in particular.

The Entry Exit System (EES) registers crossings of the EU’s external borders

The purpose of the system is to improve the quality of border checks of third-country nationals and, in particular, to help identify those who are staying in the Schengen area illegally. The system will also help in combating, detecting and investigating terrorism and other serious crime. The intention is to end the stamping of passports after a six-month transition period following the system’s introduction.

The data of third-country nationals is registered in the system when they first enter the Schengen area. Such data includes:

  • machine-readable data contained in the passport (name, passport and any visa number)
  • information on border crossings and residence
  • information on the border crossing point
  • biometrics (facial photo, fingerprints).

The data is kept in the system for five years. The proposal includes the right of law enforcement authorities to access data in order to investigate a serious crime.

Statistics from the system will improve the ability to draw up risk analyses mandated by the Schengen Borders Code and support political decision-making on migration and visa issues. The Finnish position in these negotiations is that EU legislation on border checks should take account of the need for smooth border crossings as well as improving security.

The information system will be managed by eu-LISA, the European Agency for the operational management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.

National registered traveller programmes will speed up border crossings for frequent travellers

The regulation proposal includes the possibility of setting up national registered traveller programmes (RTP). This would enable simplified and fast border crossing for third-country nationals who travel often in the Schengen area, join the programme and comply with the pre-screening criteria. Cooperation would be possible between Member States and information from national registered traveller programmes could be exchanged.

Drafting timetable

The proposed package on smart borders has been under thorough preparation for several years. It is based on a broader communication from the Commission published in 2008 and is part of the Stockholm Programme. In spring 2013, the Commission presented a proposal for legislation on smart borders and a new legislative proposal on the same issue in April 2016.

The timetable proposed by the Commission envisages the approval of the Council’s general approach in 2016 and information systems being set up in 2017–2020. The intention is to have the border crossing information system operational in 2020.

The proposed changes would improve the reliability of border checks, enable broader use of automated border controls and enhance the fight against internal security threats.