Inevitably, our debate today ahead of the vote on an important priority report is also linked to Schengen.
Preserving and strengthening Schengen is one of the Commission’s and my personal priorities.
Schengen is a great achievement of the European Integration.
We need a unified Schengen which should include Bulgaria and Romania, and soon Croatia too.
In order to ensure that the Schengen area of free movement is sustainable and secure, it is essential that we effectively manage, protect and secure our external borders.
That we have full knowledge of who comes in.
It is in this spirit that we have proposed the Entry-Exit System.
Its overall objectives are to improve the management of external borders,
to prevent irregular migration and to facilitate the management of migration flows.
It will enhance cooperation and facilitate information exchange between our Member States.
I would like to thank Mr Augustin Diaz de Mera and the shadow rapporteurs for their hard work and the agreement reached with the Council.
This new instrument will bring several urgently needed improvements:
First of all, it will enable us to better monitor the rules on short stays.
The Entry-Exit System will calculate the duration of third country nationals authorised for short stays in the EU.
It will alert border officials if a third country national is about to exceed 90 days in any 180-day period – for example if someone makes several trips to the EU.
The Entry/Exit System will also check that the duration of the stay corresponds to the issued visa.
Second, the Entry/Exit System will reduce the time needed to cross the border and will reduce the workload for border guards.
The Entry-Exit System will allow Member States to automate most data and information-capturing steps as well as data verifications.
Visitors to the EU will benefit from process accelerators and self-service systems.
For the border guards, it will mean more time to focus on the most important parts of the border check assessments.
This is also why the Schengen Borders Code had to be amended.
In addition, Member States may also create national facilitation programmes, on a voluntary basis, to further facilitate border crossings of pre-vetted frequent travellers.
The compromise proposal describes the conditions these programmes must meet.
Third, as the Entry-Exit System will record travel document and identity data including biometrics, this will improve the detection of document and identity fraud and therefore increase security.
Fourth, this system will support the competent authorities combatting terrorism and serious crimes.
When necessary, these authorities will have the possibility to access data in the system if all strict conditions are met.
Finally, the provisions on data protection are aligned to the new data protection framework and to the rulings of the Court of Justice.
The current text includes all the necessary data protection safeguards.
It is timely that the legislation enters into force, so that we can rapidly start to develop the system and get it up and running by 2020 at the latest.
I am looking forward to the debate and thank you for your continued constructive shaping of European legislation in the area of border management.
Our external border management is the nexus of our policy on security and migration, and the EU is implementing several initiatives in this domain.
There are systematic checks on all travellers, including EU citizens,
crossing our external border, since April.
I have proposed a European Travel Information and Authorisation System for visa-free travellers.
I therefore welcome the negotiations starting today (now actually!) between this House and the Council and hope you will soon reach a compromise.
Finally, the compromise on the Entry-Exit System will modernise and strengthen the Schengen area’s external border management.
It will help Member States deal with increasing traveller flows, without having to increase the number of border guards.
It will also promote mobility between the Schengen area and third countries in a secure environment, while contributing to the fight against terrorism and serious crimes and safeguarding fundamental rights.
I want to be clear: The PNR-Canada opinion has no direct binding legal effect on Entry-Exit System.
The Court decided on a specific legal situation, which cannot be automatically extrapolated to other situations.
There are significant differences between PNR and EES:
the legal base, the purpose and the scope of data gathered.
The basis and rationale of respective retention periods cannot be compared.
I am glad that this long process is now coming to an end and that we can soon start developing the system.
I therefore encourage you to support these important pieces of legislation when you vote later today.