Traveling To The European Union? What To Expect In 2023
For several years, the European Union has been toying with implementing its Exit-Entry System (EES) to keep track of immigration within the Union. The EES is an automated, biometric system designed to register travelers arriving from countries outside the EU such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. It will also track visitors leaving the EU to ensure they have not exceeded their 90-day stays.
The EU is now expected to launch the EES in May of 2023. Here’s what you can expect…
European Union Digital Passports
The EU hopes to develop a fully digital passport that will replace the need for travelers to present their country’s passport upon entry and exit. It will eliminate passport stamps as well as interviews. Once functional, a traveler’s passport information will be logged into a database shared by all EU countries.
How The EES Will Work
Travelers will be required to answer a short questionnaire, have four fingerprints recorded that will be cross-checked with data collected in the EES, and their pictures taken. This information will be logged into the EES database which will only be accessible by Europol, border and visa authorities. Data will be stored for five years.
For those of us who have recently traveled to Schengen countries like the Czech Republic, we have already experienced e-Gates with biometric technology and self-service kiosks at several major airports.
How Will The EES Be Different From Europe’s ETIAS
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver is a travel authorization and will only apply to visa-exempt third-country nationals traveling to Europe. It is scheduled to be launched in November 2023 and will be similar to the ESTA for the United States.
ETIAS will allow the EU to maintain a more efficient control of who travels within its borders. Travelers will be required to complete a one-page online ETIAS Application Form prior to visiting Europe. Since the ETIAS will be a pre-travel requirement, it will allow Europol and Interpol to identify any possible threats before the traveler arrives in Europe. ETIAS visas will only be granted to risk-free travelers.
In contrast, the EES will record biometric data including facial images and fingerprints of each traveller upon arrival in and exit from the EU.
EES Will Be Long Reaching
While EES is directed toward travelers entering and leaving the EU, it has far reaching implications as well. Criminal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and the trafficking of goods are facilitated by the absence of any system for recording entry/exit movements in Europe. Initially, EES will be introduced at airports, but eventually will be expanded to all EU ports of entry.
Is EES And Fingerprinting An Invasion Of Privacy?
We don’t think so. With the rollout of the EES, we are hopeful that the nagging long lines at passport control points will be reduced since paper documents will no longer be required.
And, if terrorist threats can be minimized, travel made safer, fingerprinting and biometric facial recognition is a small price to pay!
Let us know what you think …
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