The ETIAS watchlist is a security mechanism that will go into effect in November 2023, when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is deployed.
Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, will be in charge of keeping this list up to date and adopting relevant security measures.
The watchlist’s goal is to make the European Union and the Schengen Area safer for both citizens and tourists.
When travellers fill out their ETIAS application online, they must answer some basic health and security questions. The given information will be checked against the ETIAS watchlist as well as other databases such as the SIS, VIS, ECRIS, and planned EES.
WHAT DOES THE ETIAS WATCHLIST DO?
The ETIAS watchlist serves a simple purpose: it is a list of persons who have committed or are likely to commit a criminal violation. The watchlist collects information on these people in order to keep track of possible dangers to Europe.
The ETIAS watchlist will contain not just convicted criminals, but also those who represent a possible danger to European security based on reasonable suspicion.
The ETIAS watchlist is made up of three participating agencies:
- The UN list of war criminals
- Information provided by EU member states on any person who has committed or is likely to commit terrorist or major criminal offenses
- Information provided by international cooperation on any person who has committed or is likely to commit terrorist or major criminal offenses
WHO WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ETIAS WATCHLIST?
Europol, the European law enforcement organisation, will create and manage the ETIAS Watchlist.
Europol will, among other things, construct and monitor the ETIAS Watchlist as part of the ETIAS project to strengthen European security.
Among these upgrades are the following:
- Technological upgrades, with research and innovation in combating international crime
- Cooperation with private parties
- Cooperation with third countries
- Processing large datasets
- Working closely with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO)
THE ROLE OF EUROPOL IN SECURITY AND THE ETIAS WATCHLIST
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) is the EU’s cross-border law enforcement agency.
Its headquarters are in The Hague, and it gathers, saves, processes, and analyses data related to the security of the EU and the Schengen Area. It then organises and directs cooperative responses from member governments to possible threats.
The European Council has decided to expand Europol’s capability by granting the agency greater access to the EU’s security systems. Europol now has access to the Schengen Information System (SIS), one of the most significant information-sharing networks in the Schengen Area.
The SIS will be an important component of the ETIAS screening policy. The system will examine applicants’ background data and exchange information with other authorities, assisting in the strengthening of EU border security.
When the ETIAS goes into effect in November 2023, Europol will keep a watchlist of people who are considered a security risk. Border control personnel in member countries will have access to this information.
Europol may also be involved in coordinating any necessary reaction to a possible security risk that is identified when an ETIAS application is reviewed against the watchlist.
HOW WILL THE ETIAS WATCHLIST AFFECT PEOPLE TRAVELLING TO EUROPE?
The ETIAS watchlist will not noticeably affect the experience of the vast majority of people travelling to the EU.
However, it will help to improve the security of the EU. This will make travelling to Europe safer than ever for foreign visitors.
HOW WILL THE WATCHLIST BE USED WITH ETIAS APPLICATIONS?
Once travellers have completed their brief online ETIAS form, it will be electronically evaluated. The data will be compared to data maintained in different security systems, including the ETIAS watchlist.
If an error occurs during automated processing, the application will be manually evaluated. The decision on whether to award the ETIAS visa waiver will be made from here.
If the European travel authorization is granted, the applicant will get an email containing their ETIAS visa waiver and the details needed to show it when appropriate. This effectively grants the individual access to the ETIAS Schengen zone.
If the applicant is refused ETIAS travel authorization for whatever reason, the agency responsible for examining the application may provide reasoning. The applicant will be able to file an appeal.
WHICH COUNTRIES WILL HAVE ACCESS TO THE ETIAS WATCHLIST?
Countries that do not participate in ETIAS, such as the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as those not on the ETIAS Schengen list, will not have access to the ETIAS watchlist. These countries will keep their own Europol rules in terms of immigration and security.