After almost two years of the most extensive and thorough preparatory work the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA) and the winning tenderer – an IBM Belgium BVBA, Atos Belgium NV and Leonardo S.p.a. consortium - formalised the launch of the Framework Contract for the implementation and maintenance in working order of a new IT system, the Entry/Exit System (EES).
"Today we reached a significant milestone for not only eu-LISA but Europe by large, signalling the end of the discussions phase and the beginning of implementation which will have an EU wide impact on border management and internal security. This is how our Agency starts building the solid foundations of a new information architecture in the Justice and Home Affairs domain, which will bring a range of new and extended capabilities for EU Member States and will facilitate a strong and timely response to the present challenges in the areas of border management and internal security that concern all EU citizens. We cannot accomplish all this alone though. We need strong partners as well as close and constructive cooperation with them. We are delighted that today, after years of dedication and hard work by our teams, to have found knowledgeable and experienced partners that I believe are capable of delivering under challenging deadlines and a complex scope of work, assisting eu-LISA to achieve a timely implementation of the Entry/ Exit System for the EU," emphasised Krum GARKOV, eu-LISA's Executive Director, during the kick-off meeting at the Agency's operational site in Strasbourg, France.
The EES is one of the IT systems foreseen to shape the EU's new IT architecture that will contribute to the modernisation of external border management, help Member States deal with ever increasing number of travellers to the EU without having to increase the number of border guards as well as reinforce internal security and the fight against terrorism and serious crime. EES will electronically register third-country nationals visiting the Schengen area for a short stay. It aims to facilitate border checks, reduce delays and ensure reliable identification of over-stayers. The main users of the new IT system will be EU Member States' dedicated and competent authorities and Europol with a view to preventing, detecting and investigating terrorism as well as perpetrators or victims of crime. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) will have access to EES in order to consult specific data when risk analyses and vulnerability assessments are to be carried out.
New Service Lines for eu-LISA
The Agency initiated the preparatory work related to the implementation of the EES back in 2016, in parallel with the process of the adoption of the legal proposal. This approach proved to be efficient and allowed for a smooth implementation of EES, as soon as its legal base entered into force at the end of 2017. Being a centre of excellence in the field of development and management of large-scale IT systems, the Agency is now responsible for implementing all the activities related to the development, implementation and operational management of the central EES as well as connecting Member State border infrastructures to the central EES. This will be done by the National Uniform Interface (NUI), which is identical across all Member States as it is based on common technical specifications. eu-LISA will not only develop this interface but also coordinate the integration of the NUI by the Member States at their national level. In addition, eu-LISA is to host the other external interface of EES – the Web Service (WS) – which is to provide services to third country nationals wishing to verify their authorised length of stay. The WS will function also as a carriers' gateway to check if third country nationals with a short visa, issued for one or two entries, has already reached the number of entries authorized by the visa, or not. Both, the NUI and the WS, are new types of services which eu-LISA has not offered before.
The overall ceiling of the EES Framework Contract is slightly over euro 142,000,000 for a maximum period of six years.
- Since its establishment in 2011 and start of operation on 1 December 2012, the Agency has been a key stakeholder in the JHA domain and an essential part of, and net contributor to, the normal functioning of the Schengen Area. It has proven itself to be a reliable provider of operational services for the systems entrusted to it, making the systems operational 24/7 uninterruptedly and providing direct access to 28 Member States, 4 Associated Countries and selected JHA Agencies. It continuously evolves its systems to better serve end-user needs and meet changing policy demands.
- The Agency ensures the operational management of the European Dactyloscopy Database (Eurodac), the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the Visa Information System (VIS) and their respective communication infrastructures. In the coming years, the existing systems will be renewed/upgraded and new systems, namely the Entry/Exit System (EES), the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and the European Criminal Records Information System for Third County Nationals (ECRIS-TCN) will be developed and enter into operation.
- Further to the evolution and development of individual systems, interoperability of large-scale IT systems will also be developed and implemented. Interoperability and its components, namely the Common Identity Repository, the European Search Portal, the shared Biometric Matching Service, the Multiple Identity Detector and the Central Repository for Reporting and Statistics, will provide modern solutions to IT services.
- The headquarters of the Agency are located in Tallinn, Estonia; its operational site is in Strasbourg, France and it has a liaison office is in Brussels, Belgium.
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EES promotional video: Enhanced Security with the Entry/ Exit System