ETIAS, the Electronic Travel Information and Authorisation System, has been proposed, and is being developed by the EU, as a form of travel authorisation for citizens wishing to visit the European Schengen Zone from those countries who currently travel to this area visa-free. The intention, as it is currently understood, of the ETIAS travel authorization is to create a system which will speed up border controls and protect against security and health risks that come with the free-roam policy.

However, it has been stipulated that ETIAS could be used as a part of a common EU Intelligence Agency which would help the European Union determine risks concerning terrorism given the augmented occurrences in recent years.

What is the common EU Intelligence Agency?

In addition to the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System, the EU entry-exit system (EES) and the European Criminal Records and Information System, ETIAS is being reviewed by the database host agency eu-Lisa as a possible system to be included in the common EU Intelligence Agency.

The notion of the common EU Intelligence Agency and the idea of combining existing European-wide resources comes in response to many European politician’s concerns regarding security threats and the recent terrorist attacks as an alternative to creating a new agency from scratch which would be very problematic for the European Union due to the secretive nature of national intelligence agencies and the many political and legislative obstacles.

This proposal would allow various European authorities to access biometric and identifiable information of citizens and travelers at the touch of a button as the service would search several databases at once. The aim would be to use the information provided for ETIAS in addition to other information systems to ensure higher levels of security and avoid any future terrorist acts on European soil from external protagonists.

How will ETIAS be used?

The ETIAS visa waiver scheme will allow those citizens from countries who do not require a visa to travel to Europe to apply quickly and easily online for a travel authorization to visit any of the Schengen area countries.

The process of applying for an ETIAS permit will be simple to complete, take approximately 10 minutes and will allow EU authorities to screen the applicants who wish to travel to the Schengen zone of Europe, improving security and quickening the process of border control when you enter and leave the EU.

At time of writing, the ETIAS plans only to gather personal information such as name, date of birth, residence as well as travel document details and ask some basic security questions based on health and travel history. The EU does not currently plan to use biometric data such as fingerprinting or eye scans in the ETIAS application process, thus, were the plans for a common Intelligence Agency to go ahead, ETIAS would only be used to supply travel information.