The European Commission is proposing to implement tighter border controls for visa-free travellers within the Schengen zone.
The proposed European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) application process, expected to take no more than ten minutes and be valid for 5 years upon approval, is being introduced to strengthen pre-arrival security checks, according to the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).
This will affect visitors from Europe’s largest, well-established markets including the US and Japan, added the ETOA.
“Schengen is a success story which has transformed the visitor economy in Europe. With a single visa it has facilitated trouble-free cross-border travel within the zone. It is an example of a civilising influence that has brought great commercial and cultural benefit,” said Tom Jenkins, ETOA’s chief executive.
“The reappearance of temporary controls reminds us that we cannot take this for granted. ETIAS will be successful only if it improves the arrivals process for ETIAS holders in European gateways. It will require careful consultation and implementation.”
He added that several factors will be taken into account, including keeping cost minimal, making application processes user-friendly, and ensuring hassle is reduced for successful applicants.
“The introduction of the ESTA regime for US-bound travellers caused an immediate drop-off in volume; we must avoid this with ETIAS. If it increases the number of origin markets on Schengen’s visa-free list, then this will be a long overdue and welcome development,” he added.
The European Commission further assured that the ETIAS authorisation will not be as strict as a visa and that nationals of visa liberalisation countries will still be able to travel visa-free.