On October 1st, eu-LISA, the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, will host its first international conference in Tallinn, Estonia. The conference, 'Smart Borders: Faster and Safer Way to Europe', will be a forum for discussion and debate amongst practitioners involved in the evolution of processes and procedures at the external borders of the European Union. The main focus will be on the likely challenges that lie ahead in demonstrating the technical and operational feasibility of the proposed new Smart Borders systems during the pilot that eu-LISA will deliver in 2015 and later in the case of system development and implementation. Concrete plans for the coming months and the various testing and implementation choices will be analysed and all attendees will have the opportunity to contribute in order to ensure that future work is fully in line with stakeholder expectations.
Smart Solutions at EU Borders
The Smart Borders proposals aim to deal with the changing realities of border control in Europe. Increasing volumes of travellers are putting pressure on existing processes and systems while security risks associated with cross-border activities and irregular migration are ever-more prevalent. Set against a backdrop of tight Member State budgets, there is an acknowledgement that technology may address these risks, facilitating more efficient border management processes and better traveller experiences. The European Commission has proposed implementation of two systems:
an automated Entry-Exit system that would allow the accurate and reliable calculation of authorised stay and the verification of individual travel history of third country nationals travelling to the Schengen area as well as enhancing security during border crossings; and
a Registered Traveller Programme that will enable expedited transit for pre-vetted and pre-screened frequent travellers who choose to enrol into the system.
Together, the systems should enable states to identify those non-EU travellers who fail to leave the territory when their permitted stay elapses, permit improved monitoring of transit patterns at their borders and through the use of biometrics, prevent document and identity fraud and enable flexible and fluid automated and manual border crossing.
eu-LISA has a Clear Role
eu-LISA is playing a critical role in the assessment of the feasibility of these systems ahead of any future deployment. In particular, the Agency has been entrusted to deliver a pilot in 2015 that will assess suggested operating models and proposed mechanisms for system implementation in operational settings. The mandate provided by the EU Institutions to eu-LISA recognises the value of the Agency's experience in the operational management of large-scale IT systems. The goal is to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the Agency and its staff in testing, system development and management to arrive at the best possible results that will guide future decision making
The October 1st conference is an important milestone in the overall process. At the event, a variety of stakeholders that will play a crucial role in the pilot and any subsequent development will gather to delineate the best path forward. Distinguished keynote speakers from the European Commission and the Estonian and Finnish Ministries of the Interior will set the tone for the event. Operational matters will be discussed in panels that bring together representatives from some of the diverse entities with interest in the future systems – national authorities, the border guard community and passenger and carrier representatives. All attendees will have an opportunity to complement discussions with their own views, thoughts and expressions of their main recommendations for the pilot and any subsequent work. The conference should set the scene for future collaborative work and establish agreement on some matters of crucial importance in the months and year ahead.
eu-LISA intends to host annual conferences hereafter to focus on those issues of most relevance to EU citizens and under the responsibility of the Agency. We believe that such forums provide the Agency with an opportunity to interact with its stakeholders and are one more measure that should help eu-LISA to continuously increase its added value to the EU and its citizens.
Communication on the Conference