In January 2019, Commissioner Avramopoulos testified to the EU’s Special Committee on Terrorism on the benefits that ETIAS will provide in combating terrorism in Europe.
Following a series of assaults on European soil, many measures with the same objective of enhancing security in Europe were presented in 2016.
The European Union is actively developing some of the ideas discussed at that summit, notably the Electronic Travel Authorization and Information System (ETIAS).
ETIAS AND ITS ROLE IN COUNTERACTING TERRORISM
The goal of these programmes is to boost security by enhancing Europe’s external and internal border controls.
To achieve this shared aim, the European ETIAS will collaborate with other projects and authorities like as Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
The border security measures are being implemented in reaction to previous terrorist-related acts in other European nations.
As a result, the European Parliament and the European Council agreed on numerous ideas, including ETIAS and the Entry-Exit System (EES). Both systems are currently in development and, once fully operational by November 2023, should be able to address a wide range of issues confronting the EU.
The ETIAS and EES will assist the European Union in achieving greater safety in the following areas:
- Preventing threats to European security by prescreening travelers prior to their departure towards the EU against multiple security databases such as Europol and Interpol
- Avoiding illegal migration by registering visa-exempt traveler’s arrival date to the EU, exit dates, length of stay granted to them by their travel authorization as well as failed or denied attempts to enter the continent
- Actively stopping individuals who may pose health hazards to the wellbeing of Schengen residents by pre-screening passenger data before their trip to Europe
WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES ETIAS OFFER FOR TRAVELERS TO EUROPE?
ETIAS will be extremely beneficial to both European citizens and tourists in a variety of ways.
- The European ETIAS visa waiver strategy will require all travelers who currently visit the Schengen Zone visa-free to obtain a travel authorization for Europe by filling out the ETIAS online application form. Applicants will be asked to provide basic personal information and passport details as well as answer simple security, health, and immigration-related questions.The ETIAS grants holders multiple short-term entries of up to 90 days within a 180-day period without needing to complete a new application for every trip nor any further visa paperwork. This authorization is valid for any and all 26 Schengen member nations for 3 years
- The ETIAS program will, therefore, provide information on travelers who cross external borders into Europe while joining forces with other European agencies including Europol to maintain information on returning foreigners who may have ties to terrorism
- Another advantage of ETIAS for travelers is that the system will offer information sharing between European Security agencies, allowing for better protection against the use of false identities or identity theft
THE ETIAS PROCESS
Tourists will be able to complete the ETIAS application form online in an easy and quick manner. Within 24 hours of applying, the majority of candidates will get their granted ETIAS visa waiver through email. A small percentage of applications may require individual processing by a member of the ETIAS organisational structure. It may take up to 2-3 business days to process these unusual occurrences.
The new European visa waiver will make it easier and safer for qualified persons from throughout the world to visit Europe, while also assisting border control, immigration authorities, and EU member states in efficiently preventing and combating terrorist acts.
OTHER COUNTER-TERRORISM MEASURES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Aside from the adoption of the ETIAS, the EU is implementing additional anti-terrorism regulations. Actions taken by the EU to avoid future attacks include:
- Meticulous systematic checks at Europe’s external borders for both EU citizens and third-country visitors
- Improved national police and judicial cooperation with Frontex on tracing suspects, pursuing perpetrators, cutting the financing of terrorism, tackling organized crime, and, addressing radicalization
- Reinforcing Frontex to reach its goal of 10,000 border guards and operational staff by 2027 to enable the agency to carry out border control and migration management as well as fight cross-border crime in conjunction with local authorities
- New entry and exit registration system to record the movements of non-EU citizens across the Schengen borders and speed up controls
- Temporary internal border control in certain countries to prevent terrorists from circulating freely within the EU EU-wide legislation on terrorism to stop individuals from the EU traveling to conflict areas in Syria and Iraq to join jihadist terrorist groups
- Passenger Name Record (PNR) data such as names, travel dates, itinerary and payment method shared by airlines with national authorities to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute terrorist offenses, false identity use, and other serious crimes
- Strengthening the Schengen Information System (SIS) to introduce alerts for terrorist-related activities, wanted or missing persons and lost or stolen property that police and border guards can consult as well as a biometric matching service to facilitate identification
- Granting Europol (the EU police agency) more powers to advance in the fight against terrorism and support in the exchange of information between national police authorities and specialized units such as the European counterterrorism center
- Updating the anti-money laundering directive to cut the financing of terrorism by eliminating terrorists’ sources of revenue and disrupting their logistics by increasing transparency in regards to the people behind companies and address risks linked to virtual currencies and anonymous pre-paid cards
- Revising the European firearms directive to close legal loopholes and reduce access to dangerous weapons in order to avoid them falling into the wrong hands Stricter rules to obstruct access to ingredients needed to build home-made bombs, and other explosives that could be used in terrorist attacks
- Boosting cybersecurity to prevent radicalization by obliging online companies and social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube to delete terrorist content within one hour of receiving an order from authorities
- Preventing radicalization and countering it by creating an EU-wide watchlist of hate preachers, segregating radicalized inmates in jails, educating and working on social inclusion of at-risk individuals
- Cooperating with non-EU countries to enhance the EU’s external security
The EU is aggressively working to improve both internal and external security through all of these efforts, as well as the ETIAS, which is set to be completely operational by November 2023.