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'Smart borders': enhancing mobility and security

European Commission - IP/13/162   28/02/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 28 February 2013

'Smart borders': enhancing mobility and security

The EU is moving towards a more modern and efficient border management by using state-of-the-art technology. Today, the Commission proposed a 'smart border package' to speed-up, facilitate and reinforce border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU. The package consists of a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) and an Entry/Exit System (EES) that will simplify life for frequent third country travellers at the Schengen external borders and enhance EU border security.

"The use of new technologies will enable smoother and speedier border crossing for third country citizens who want to come to the EU. Our aim is to facilitate the access of foreign travellers to the EU. This will not only be in the interest of the travellers but also the European economy. It has been estimated that in 2011 alone foreign travellers made a €271 billion contribution to our economy. Modernising our systems will also lead to a higher level of security by preventing irregular border crossings and detecting those who overstay'', said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Regulation on an EU Registered Traveller Programme (RTP)

  1. A Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) will allow frequent travellers from third countries to enter the EU using simplified border checks, subject to pre-screening and vetting. It is estimated that 5 million legitimate non EU-travellers per year will make use of this new program. The RTP will make use of automated border control systems (i.e. automated gates) at major border crossing points such as airports that make use of this modern technology. As a result, border checks of Registered Travellers would be much faster than nowadays.

  2. Business travellers, workers on short term contracts, researchers and students, third country nationals with close family ties to EU citizens or living in regions bordering the EU are all likely to cross the borders several times a year. Making it as easy as possible for them to come to the EU would ensure that Europe remains an attractive destination and help boosting economic activity and job creation.

Regulation on an EU Entry/Exit system

  1. An Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the time and place of entry and exit of third country nationals travelling to the EU. The system will calculate the length of the authorised short stay in an electronic way, replacing the current manual system, and issue an alert to national authorities when there is no exit record by the expiry time. In this way, the system will also be of assistance in addressing the issue of people overstaying their short term visa.

  2. The current practice used by Member States when checking a third country national wanting to cross the EU's external borders is based mainly on the stamps in the travel document. This practice is time consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings does not allow detecting overstaying in a workable way and cannot efficiently cope with cases of loss or destruction of the travelling documents. Moreover, today's systems will not allow the EU Member States to deal with the ever increasing pressure of travellers accessing and exiting the EU whose number, at the air borders alone, is expected to increase by 80%, from 400 million in 2009 to 720 million in 2030.

Background

Today's proposals follow a 2011 Communication (IP/11/1234), in which a discussion was launched between EU institutions and authorities about the implementation of new systems, in light of their added value, their technological and data protection implications, and their costs.

The proposals are part of the initiative to strengthen the overall governance of the Schengen area, as announced in the Communication on Migration adopted on 4 May 2011 (IP/11/532 and MEMO/11/273).

Next steps

Negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the RTP and the EES legislative proposals will now start. After adoption of the legal texts by the co-legislators, the establishment of the systems will take place with a view to start operations in 2017 or 2018.

Useful Links

Cecilia Malmström's website

Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter

DG Home Affairs website

Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter

Infographics on borders and visas

EU 'Smart Borders' – press conference

Audio-visual material:

Videos: Frankfurt Airport; Schiphol Airport

Photos: Frankfurt Airport; Schiphol Airport

Proposals for regulations on a Registered Traveller Programme and an Entry/Exit System

Questions and answers: MEMO/13/141

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)


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