Tue. Jun 8th, 2021
  • EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) scheduled to come online 2022
  • Cross-references criminal records, travel document information, biometric data and visa information
  • Parliament adopted three texts enabling ETIAS access to EU databases, amending one of them

Amendments to the regulations set out time limits for flags on criminal offences and mitigate the impact of false hits.

To lay the technical groundwork for ETIAS, the European Parliament adopted two amendments negotiated with the European Council, and adopted changes to a third text on ETIAS access to the European Criminal Records Information System on Third-Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN). This database contains criminal records of foreign nationals or stateless persons convicted of serious or terrorist offences.

The new amendments stipulate that only the ETIAS Central System can see flags about criminal convictions, and they must be removed 15 years after creation, rising to 25 years in the case of terrorist offences. Also, the Central System will now notify member state systems about false hits resulting from automated processing in a way that ensures the anonymity of data subjects. An impact assessment commissioned by the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has warned that false hits resulting from data quality issues (for example, spelling errors) could potentially become an issue with the new legislation.

Background

After its launch in 2022, the ETIAS systems will check the records of visa-exempt travellers before they enter the Schengen area. Cross-checking travel applications against databases (Visa Information System VIS, Schengen Information System SIS, criminal records database ECRIS, fingerprint database Eurodac and the Entry-Exit System EES), the system will assess an applicant’s risk level in terms of public security, illegal immigration or epidemics.

To facilitate travel for risk-free individuals, an ETIAS travel authorisation will be valid for three years, unless a relevant new alert is entered into connected databases. The new amendments allow ETIAS to search the records of ECRIS, EES and Eurodac, as well as Europol data.

Next steps

The texts will now have to be formally adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal, after which they will enter into force in 20 days.