The Entry-Exit-System (EES) is a European-wide IT system that is planned to help border guards and EU countries monitor the entry and exit of third-country nationals. This is a major undertaking being carried out by the European Union in preparation for the launch of its ETIAS visa-waiver system.
To clarify what the system will feature and how it will be rolled out, the following article takes a closer look at what EES is and how it will be used once ETIAS has been launched and the new infrastructure has been fully implemented.
How Will the EES Work?
EES will be the electronic infrastructure used to collect and process the data of third-country nationals traveling between the borders of the EU Schengen zone. Schengen comprises 26 countries in continental Europe in which travelers may travel passport-free. Passport checks are only carried out on entry and exit to the zone itself and this is precisely where EES will come into use.
The system itself will operate in two layers. The first will be a Schengen-wide Central System with the second comprising a state-exclusive National Uniform Interface (NUI). Through the NUI, each member state will be responsible for securely updating information on the central database.
The EES will also connect to the EU’s Visa Information Service (VIS) database which holds the electronic data of all EU visas and ETIAS that have been issued. These will be joined by a Secure Communications Channel and will ensure that EES doesn’t allow visitors to enter with expired visas or visa waivers and to notify authorities of those who have overstayed.
This information will also be accessible to holders of Schengen travel documents via a web portal. It will allow them to check the remaining number of days they have left in the Schengen area online in order to prevent accidental overstays.
What Biometric Information will be Collected?
EES will be permitted access to data collected from visa-holders as well as holders of ETIAS when the system is activated across the EU. This means that prior to arrival the system will know the document holder’s:
- Facial image
- Name and surname
- Date of birth
- Passport number and expiry date
Who Will EES Apply to?
Passing through EES will be a necessary step for third-country nationals entering an EU Schengen destination. This applies to both citizens of visa-waiver countries such as the USA or visitors with valid Schengen visas from countries requiring visas such as China or Russia.
What are the Goals of Entry/Exit System
The European Union’s Entry/Exit System has been designed with 4 key goals in mind. These focus on the strengthening of the EU’s border security and improving the flow of people in and out of the EU’s territory from the rest of the world. These aims include:
- The modernization and efficiency of the EU’s external borders
- To streamline and improve the processes of border infrastructure for member states
- The reinforcement of security measures and to provide an active barrier against terrorism in the EU
- To identify individuals overstaying on an EU visa or visa waiver
Which European Organization Will Manage EES
The management of EES will be fully operated by eu-LISA. This is the EU’s IT agency and is also responsible for managing EURODAC, SIS, VIS and other large-scale, pan European informational databases. Its main function is to ensure that all the shared data between EU countries and Schengen members remains fully secure and encrypted.
If EES fully meets its goals, it will greatly speed up and improve the process of entering the Schengen zone for citizens of countries and states outside the EU. This system combined with ETIAS will make it much simpler for residents of non-EU countries to pass efficiently through national immigration into a Schengen state.
ETIAS will be an obligatory step to traveling to Europe when it is implemented in the following years. It functions very similarly to the US ESTA system with a quick and easy online application being necessary prior to travel to an EU Schengen point of entry.