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European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice

FAQ

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Factsheet for the Smart Borders Pilot

What are the Smart Borders Package, Entry/Exit System (EES) and Registered Traveller Programme (RTP)?

The Smart Borders Package comprises three legislative proposals that aim to improve the management of the external borders of the European Union, fight against irregular immigration, provide information on over-stayers, as well as facilitate border crossings for pre-vetted frequent third country national (TCN) travellers. The package proposes development of two new IT solutions: an Entry/Exit System (EES) would record travellers' time and place of entry to and exit from the European Union Schengen Area and a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) would allow pre-enrolled travellers (frequent travellers) to cross the external Schengen borders using simplified border checks.

The Smart Borders Package was proposed by the European Commission in February 2013 following the Communication (EC) of February 2008 suggesting the establishment of an Entry/Exit System (EES).

What is the Smart Borders Pilot?

The Smart Borders Pilot (SBP) is a project involving testing of new technologies at European border crossing points in-light of the Smart Borders proposal.

During the first examination of the Smart Borders Package, which was completed in February 2014, a number of technical, cost-related and operational concerns were voiced, mainly on the overall feasibility of the EES and RTP systems and the practicability of certain features. For instance, the concerns included the choice of biometric identifiers, their impact on the border crossing process and the extent to which national EES could be integrated and/or reused.

To assess the options to address these concerns, the Coreper[1] endorsed a 'proof of concept' exercise on 4 February 2014 consisting of two parts: a Commission-led Technical Study[2] (completed in October 2014) and a Test Phase or 'Pilot' to be conducted by eu-LISA in 2015.

The Pilot aims to test a limited set of technical options identified by the Technical Study. It does not aim to test the EES and RTP proposals as a whole. Rather, it will test the feasibility of the retained options and validate the selected concepts.

The Pilot specifically aims to test these options for both automated and manual border controls. It further aims to test the options in operational and relevant environments. Finally, it aims to test them against specific measurable criteria, notably accuracy, effectiveness, and impact on the border crossing duration and on the procedural complexity.

The results for the Pilot will provide an important evidence basis for considering the feasibility of the system(s) and processes proposed for Smart Borders.

Who is eu-LISA?

eu-LISA, the European Agency for the Operational Management of large-scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, is an EU Agency established to provide a long-term solution for the operational management of large-scale IT systems that are essential instruments in the implementation of the asylum, border management and migration policies of the EU. The Agency is currently managing the Visa Information System (VIS), the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the Eurodac system. The Agency contributes to EU policy development in the area of justice, security and freedom.

eu-LISA proactively  supports  and  promotes  effective  cooperation  and  information  exchange  between  relevant  EU  law  enforcement, migration and asylum  bodies by ensuring  the uninterrupted operation of large-scale IT systems under its responsibility and thereby contributes to free movement of people within the Schengen Area. The headquarters of eu-LISA are in Tallinn, Estonia whilst its operational centre is in Strasbourg, France.

What is the role of the eu-LISA in the context of the Pilot?

In recognition of the Agency's technical expertise and experience, the European Commission has delegated the delivery of the Smart Borders Pilot to eu-LISA. eu-LISA coordinates the testing and subsequent follow-up, analysis of results and reporting in close collaboration with the participating Member States and the European Institutions. eu-LISA's tasks include ensuring that tests are carried out in accordance with best practice recommendations and all national and European data protection regulations and principles. Furthermore, eu-LISA is responsible that the deployment of equipment is fully monitored and technical setups put in place. This is to ensure that comparable results are obtained during testing at different locations and that actionable evidence is produced for future decision-making on the proposed Smart Borders systems. eu-LISA will deliver a comprehensive report on the results of testing to the European Commission at the end of November 2015.

Which countries and border crossing points participate in the Pilot?

The test cases of the Pilot project will be executed at 17 border crossing points (BCP) in 12 Member States..

The locations for the tests are highlighted in the picture below.

 Test Locations

How did you select the locations for the tests?

The selection of test locations was based on the assessment of various Border Crosser Points (BCP) offered by volunteering EU Member States. This assessment was done based on the representativeness of the variety of Schengen border conditions and the suitability of the BCP for testing. (e.g. border type, equipment types, volumes of travellers).

What equipment will be used to run the tests? How has the equipment been selected?

The selection criteria for biometric devices for the tests are:

  • Devices should already be on the market;
  • Devices should be made available by the industry as a loan for use;
  • Additional devices should be deployed where a gap is identified between existing equipment and test case needs (e.g. number and type of equipment);
  • Only offered technologies can be deployed;
  • Equipment must be compatible with infrastructure at the BCP;
  • Where possible, existing contracts of the Member States should be used.

 

 

What does a volunteering traveller have to do in the test?

Firstly, the traveller will be informed about the Pilot, its objectives, the type of data collected as well as his/her right as a data subject in accordance with data protection law. For these purposes, information materials have been made available at all test locations and dedicated personnel are on hand to elaborate further on these materials and to answer any questions that the traveller may have.

Secondly, the traveller will have to give his/her consent (oral or written depending on the legal requirements at the test locations).

Thirdly, the traveller will cross the border using a process that incorporates extra/modified steps according to the tests being undertaken. All elements of the normal existing border control process will be included in the overall process. Thus, all passengers, both pilot volunteers and others, will be subjected to the same level of check.

Finally, the aim of the Pilot is to analyse the efficiency and rapidity of the overall process. Therefore the data collected for the test will be depersonalised and saved only locally and any retention of the data will be limited to the time necessary to produce the relevant statistics and analysis.

What is the cost of the Pilot?

The total budget for the Pilot is EUR 3.50 million.

How many months will the Pilot last?

The second phase of the proof of concept (also referred to as Pilot) is taking place between January and November 2015 with active testing being carried out from March to September 2015.

To whom will the results of the Pilot project be presented?  

The report with the final results will be presented to the European Commission. A copy of the report will also be sent to the Council, i.e. to the Member States and to the European Parliament. eu-LISA will also publish the final report on the website of the Agency to make it publicly available for interested organisations, citizens and volunteers who have participated in the Pilot.

How will eu-LISA make sure that the Pilot is compliant with European laws and regulations on data protection?

During the preparation of the Pilot, the EC, eu-LISA and EU Member States defined all the necessary data protection requirements to be introduced and followed during the Pilot. They follow the existing legislation on data protection which will require eu-LISA to comply with Regulation (EC) 45/2001 and the Member States' authorities to comply with Directive 95/46/EC and its national implementations and other applicable data protection rules. In this regard, the European Data Protection Supervisor as well as, if necessary, national supervisory authorities are involved.

The tests are conducted in compliance with fundamental rights, particularly the right to respect for private life, protection of personal data, dignity and non-discrimination.



 

[1] Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union

[2] http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/smart-borders/docs/smart_borders_technical_study_en.pdf

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