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EU seeks ways to collect data on tourists before they arrive

Despite adjusting the timing of the launch of the Entry/Exit System (EES), the EU is developing tools to collect data on travelers before they arrive. At the same time, some European airports are already ready to introduce new entry procedures for those arriving from outside the EU.

Automatic control will replace stamps when crossing the border

The EU continues to develop measures to improve border control procedures and related information and security systems. One of the key elements of this set of measures is the Entry/Exit System (EES), which, as the name suggests, will automatically account for all trips to the EU by third-country nationals.

The EES will accumulate travelers’ passport data, including date of birth and full name, biometric data (fingerprints and photograph), entry and exit dates, and information about denied entry into the EU. The collected information will be valid for three years.

As highlighted in the EU Migration and Home Affairs Office, EES will replace the current system of manually stamping passports at EU borders, which is “time-consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings and does not systematically identify persons who violate the terms of stay.”

The dates have been pushed back, but work on the launch continues

It was originally planned to launch EES in May 2023, but in January it was announced that due to the fault of the contractors, the implementation of this project was postponed to the end of this year. Preliminary for November. At the same time, the European Commission recommended that the EU countries and all interested departments continue preparations for the launch of the EES.

As part of this directive, it became known that more contractors have been engaged to create a mobile phone application that will allow visitors from non-EU countries to pre-register their data with EES before traveling to the EU.

This special application must be ready before the EES is officially launched. At the same time, the EC allowed the EU countries to develop their digital tools to facilitate border crossings, to further help “speed up border control and avoid possible long waiting times.”

In other words, the EU wants to collect personal data from travelers before they even enter. Whether information provided by a potential visitor, for example, about the purpose of the trip, can be a reason for refusing entry, the EC did not say.

However, the EC comments say that it is not yet expected that the application for pre-registration in the EES will be mandatory. According to the EES roadmap, the registration of travelers in the Entry/Departure System will be carried out at border checkpoints.

In Lithuania, everything is ready for the launch of EES

Some countries are already preparing for the implementation of EES. According to French media, some airports are preparing to install pre-registration kiosks, where travelers will be offered to pass before they proceed to passport control. Last year, the French airport organization UAF insisted on the introduction of such a two-stage scheme. The UAF fears that EES will lead to an increase in queues at border control and passenger complaints.

Lithuania has already reported on its readiness to implement EES at the airports of Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga. Appropriate equipment has already been purchased and is ready for use. Thus, when the Entry/Exit System is officially launched in the European Union, in Lithuania, travelers from third countries will be offered to go through passport control through self-service terminals. But passengers will not be allowed to relax: Lithuanian border guards promise strict control in the form of additional checks and personal interviews with travelers.

The European Union’s plans to introduce EES for travelers are not supported by all members of the bloc. Some countries, such as Lithuania, agree to the launch of EES, but others, such as Austria, Germany, and Croatia, do not.

The main concerns are the high cost of the project (Lithuania spent 3.2 million euros), the lengthening of queues at border control, and the need to continue to involve border guards in checks (which are also expenses). Finally, the image of Europe as a tourist destination is also at stake: skeptics believe that with the launch of the EES, the number of people wishing to travel to EU countries will decrease.

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