The eu-LISA is the European Union Agency which manages the operations of its large-scale information systems, administering to matters regarding freedom, justice, and security. The eu-LISA Agency started operating in December 2012 and currently manages the operations of the EU information systems SIS II, VIS and EURODAC, ensuring they remain functional 24 hours a day. It is also responsible for data security and compliance with EU data protection regulations.

Since 2016, a priority for the European Commission has been to improve data management and increase the interconnectivity of the information systems currently in use. Proposed changes were finally approved in November 2018 which will allow eu-LISA to manage all of the EU information systems including the new ETIAS electronic visa for travel to Schengen Area countries.

How does eu-LISA Work?

The eu-LISA Agency manages and provides support for the information systems that connect EU member states, helping to strengthen security through technology. The duties of eu-LISA are:

  • To administer efficient, cutting-edge tech services and solutions
  • To provide technological capabilities to match Member States’ needs
  • To develop the high standards of the services provided.

Since its inception, eu-LISA has been responsible for managing three information systems, the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC. The Agency is responsible for maintaining a high standard of data protection and security, providing training on the technical use of IT systems to national authorities, and for research and development of new systems.

In 2018, the European Commission approved a proposal to amplify the managerial duties of eu-LISA to the various new EU information services that will soon be implemented, including the ETIAS visa waiver for Schengen countries.

Changes to eu-LISA Responsibilities

The European Commision first presented a proposal to strengthen the mandate of eu-LISA in 2017, outlining several ways on how to increase the functionality of EU information systems in order to improve border control and security within Europe.The proposal was then adopted in November 2018, and the expansion of Eu-LISA’s responsibilities began.

The principal goal in expanding eu-LISA regulation is to achieve a more interconnected and centralized network of information systems that will close information gaps and allow police and border officials access to comprehensive and accurate data.

The expanded duties of the eu-LISA will include:

  • Implementing the technical components to facilitate interoperability of all the EU information systems
  • Providing greater technical and operational support to the individual Member States
  • Upgrading existing information systems it is already responsible for, including the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC
  • Developing and managing future information systems, such as the upgraded European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES), and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).

The eu-LISA and ETIAS

One of the new systems for which eu-LISA will be responsible is the ETIAS electronic visa waiver program for Europe that will come into effect in 2021.

The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) has been approved alongside the eu-LISA to identify any risks or threats among travelers to the Schengen Area countries and strengthen European Union borders. When implemented, all passport holders currently visa-exempt for Europe will be required to complete a simple online ETIAS application form before traveling to the Schengen Area. The ETIAS visa will allow for entry into any of the 26 Schengen countries once obtained.

Applicants from eligible ETIAS countries will have to fill in basic personal information, passport data, and contact details, as well as answer a series of questions related to security and health matters. This data will then be checked against security databases, and shared with the other information systems by eu-LISA, in order to pre-screen and maintain information on travelers to the EU.

Both the reinforced agency and the new information system will work together to increase security, with the pre-screening done by ETIAS allowing for risks to be identified that eu-LISA can then share with the other information systems. The development and management functions of eu-LISA will also allow for a modernized and efficient EU information network to emerge in the years to come.