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Travelers entering EU’s border-free Schengen area frequently will be able to cross frontiers quickly thanks to a special machine-readable card.
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 Traveler Programme (RTP) and an Entry/Exit System (EES) that will simplify life for frequent third country travelers 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 travelers to the EU. This will not only be in the interest of the travelers but also the European economy. It has been estimated that in 2011 alone foreign travelers made a €271 billion contribution to our economy. Modernizing 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 Traveler Programme (RTP)
- A Registered Traveler Programme (RTP) will allow frequent travelers 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-travelers 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 Travelers would be much faster than nowadays.
- Business travelers, 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
- 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 authorized 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.
- 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.