EU mulls "travel authorization" for visa-exempt country nationals ahead of trips to Schengen zone
On April 25, EU ambassadors confirmed an agreement reached between the Council Presidency and the European Parliament representatives on the proposal for a European travel information and authorization system (ETIAS).
"Today's agreement is another important step in protecting the EU's external borders. By knowing who is coming to the EU before they even arrive at the border, we will be better able to stop those who may pose a threat to our citizens," said Valentin Radev, Bulgarian minister of interior, according to the EU Council press service.
ETIAS will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorization to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area.
EU officials say it will "help improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, protect public health and reduce delays at the borders by identifying persons who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they arrive at the external borders."
Visa-exempt third country nationals will need to obtain a travel authorization before their trip, via an online application. For each application, the applicant will be required to pay a travel authorization fee of EUR 7.
Read alsoPoland opposes mandatory quotas for refugees from Middle East, North AfricaThe information submitted in each application will be automatically processed against EU and relevant Interpol databases to determine whether there are grounds to refuse a travel authorization. If no hits or elements requiring further analysis are identified, the travel authorization will be issued automatically and quickly. This is expected to be the case for most applications.
If there is a hit or an element requiring analysis, the application will be handled manually by the competent authorities. In this case, the ETIAS central unit will first check that the data recorded in the application file corresponds to the data triggering a hit. When it does or where doubts remain, the application will be processed manually by the ETIAS national unit of the responsible member state. The issuing or refusal of an application which has triggered a hit will take place no later than 96 hours after the application is submitted or, if additional information has been requested, 96 hours after this information has been received.
Before boarding, air carriers and sea carriers will need to check whether third country nationals subject to the travel authorization requirement are in possession of a valid travel authorization. From three years after the entry into operations of ETIAS this obligation will also apply to international carriers transporting groups overland by coach.
Read alsoFT: EU leaders spar over migration policyThe travel authorization will not provide an automatic right of entry or stay; it is the border guard who will take the final decision.
A travel authorization will be valid for three years or until the end of validity of the travel document registered during application, whichever comes first.
Now that the agreement has been confirmed by EU ambassadors, on behalf of the Council, the regulation will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and subsequently to the Council for adoption.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on June 11, 2017, the decision of the Council of the European Union to introduce a visa-free regime for short trips of Ukrainian citizens to 30 countries of the European Union and the Schengen zone came into force.