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Construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): progress reports from Frontex and Europol
8.5.19
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Frontex and Europol have submitted reports to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU outlining progress in the construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), a 'travel permission' system akin to the US ESTA, the legislation for which was approved in September 2018.

Frontex report on the ETIAS state of preparation (in Council document 8557/19, LIMITE, 15 April 2019, pdf):

"Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 September 2018, establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), entrusts the setup of the ETIAS Central Unit to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

...even though the Legislative Financial Statement for ETIAS does not foresee any financial or human resources for 2019, the Agency has allocated resources this year to initiate a programme related to the setup of the ETIAS Central Unit and interoperability projects relevant to Frontex and to support the Commission, eu-LISA, Europol and the Members States [sic] in the development of the system.

...a number of activities have been initiated with two clear objectives. The first objectives aims at supporting the Commission in the development of the Delegated and Implementing Acts consequential to the ETIAS Regulation. The second one aims at initiating the project for the development of the ETIAS Central Unit including all aspects of this endeavour, including, for example, the recruitment of staff and the allocation of necessary premises space so that it is ready for operation on time.

...So far, a budget of €172,700 has been committed to cover the costs of missions and the costs of organisation of the High Level Seminar on ETIAS. These costs have been borne by the 2019 budget of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency."

Frontex's role in ETIAS is set out in Article 75 of the Regulation (Eur-lex, link):

"Article 75

Responsibilities of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency

1. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency shall be responsible for:

(a) the setting up and operation of the ETIAS Central Unit and ensuring the conditions for the secure management of data stored in ETIAS;

(b) the automated processing of applications; and

(c) the ETIAS screening rules.

2. Before being authorised to process data recorded in the ETIAS Central System, the staff of the ETIAS Central Unit having a right to access the ETIAS Central System shall be given appropriate training on data security and fundamental rights, in particular data protection. They shall also take part in training offered by eu-LISA on the technical use of the ETIAS Information System and on data quality."

Europol report on the ETIAS state of preparation (EDOC 1036991-v3, 9 April 2019, pdf):

"Since the adoption of the ETIAS Regulation in September 2018, Europol has actively participated in the implementation meetings organised by the European Commission and attended related meetings of the Council as well as the Advisory Group meetings organised by eu-LISA.

To date, these meetings have served mainly to discuss the intended functioning of the ETIAS process on the basis of the legal text. This has helped to get a better and - importantly - common understanding among the Commission, Member States and the Agencies on how the instrument will work in practice.

Already during the negotiating process in 2017 and 2018 Europol had internally conducted a business analysis by elaborating the operational processes in which Europol is expected to be involved...

On the basis of the initial assumption that pre-date the adopted legal instrument, Europol also made estimations of the number of operational staff that would be required once ETIAS has been implemented. Based on the figures used at the time by the Commission a total ranging between 36 and 48 FTEs [full-time equivalents] was calculated for delivering the operational work to fulfil Europol's tasks in the context of ETIAS... the possible effects of BREXIT will be taken into consideration as part of that review.

...Technically, the implementation of ETIAS also connects with the broader interoperability dimension. This applies for instance to the use of the European search portal for the cross-checks of travel applications against Europol data, but also vice versa, for querying ETIAS by Europol in support Member States' criminal investigations.

...Concretely, Europol has already taken a first step towards the objective of making Europol data available for the European Search Portal and for the future cross-checking of ETIAS travel applications. At present, a first Member State is connected to QUEST BPL Test Environment, which serves as the interface for conducting automated queries against Europol data."

Europol's role in ETIAS is set out in Article 77 of the Regulation (Eur-lex, link):

"Article 77

Responsibilities of Europol

1. Europol shall ensure processing of the queries referred to in point (j) of Article 20(2) and in Article 20(4). It shall adapt its information system accordingly.

2. Europol shall have the responsibilities and tasks regarding the ETIAS watchlist laid down in Article 35(1) and (3) to (6).

3. Europol shall be responsible for providing a reasoned opinion following a consultation request pursuant to Article 29.

4. Pursuant to Article 34(2), Europol shall be responsible for entering data related to terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences obtained by Europol into the ETIAS watchlist.

5. Before being authorised to undertake any of the tasks referred to in Articles 34 and 35, the staff of Europol shall be given appropriate training on data security and on fundamental rights, in particular data protection. They shall also take part in training offered by eu-LISA on the technical use of the ETIAS Information System and on data quality."

 

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