Smart Borders Package improves EU border management

The EU has adopted a Smart Borders Package, which is to be introduced in 2024-2025. The Smart Borders Package aims to: 

  • facilitate border checks
  • improve internal security by, for example, stronger identification of persons at external borders
  • facilitate the detection of overstayers in the EU’s territory. 

In addition to the Entry/Exit System (EES), the package includes the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which corresponds to advance screening in passenger registration systems used throughout the world. 

The Entry/Exit System (EES) to register travellers at the EU’s external borders

The purpose of the EES 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. 

With the introduction of the system, the stamping of passports will be abolished after a short transition period. The system will also enable third-country nationals to verify the length of their authorised stay. 

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 stay
  • information on the border-crossing point
  • biometrics (facial image, fingerprints).

As a rule, the data is stored in the system for three years. The law enforcement authorities will have access to the data in order to investigate serious criminal offences. Statistics from the system will also improve the ability to draw up risk analyses required by the Schengen Borders Code and support political decision-making on migration and visa issues. 

The information systems will be managed by eu-LISA, the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.

Preparation and timetable for the introduction

The Regulations concerning the Smart Borders Package were adopted in 2017–2018. They are based on a broader communication from the Commission published already in 2008. In spring 2013, the Commission presented the first proposal for legislation on smart borders and a new legislative proposal on the same issue in April 2016.

The target timetable:

  • the EES will come operational in autumn 2024
  • the ETIAS will come operational spring 2025

The Commission will decide on the final dates of starting the operations once it is verified that the systems are functional and the necessary tests have been carried out. 

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

Tero Hirvonen, Head of Unit, tel. +358 295 421 191, [email protected]