European Commission prepares automated system for visa-free travel in EU

European Commission is preparing to introduce a European ESTA

Taking inspiration from France and Germany, the European Commission is preparing a proposal to introduce a European ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) on the lines of a US scheme, which requires international travellers not needing a visa to apply online before entering the continent.

EurActiv quotes EU sources as saying that a legislative draft would be tabled in the autumn. Both France and Germany have been urging for the scheme, which would pave way for introduction of a pan-European system for foreign travellers wanting to travel to Europe.

The proposal is a result of the increased security concerns after terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels bombings later in March this year.

According to Bernard Cazeneuve, French Interior Minister, the European ESTA would be applicable to people who do not require visas before entering Europe. This proposal was mooted as part of an initiative to strengthen controls at the external borders of the EU, which was launched by the Interior Ministers of France and Germany on 23 August.

The European system would be on the lines of the ESTA in the US, an automated system that ascertains the visitors’ eligibility to travel to the country, Cazeneuve said. Schemes of the similar types are said to be in existence in Canada and Australia.

The European Commission in charge of Home Affairs spokesperson, Natasha Bertaud, said that European ESTA would be a way of making sure that people do not overstay. The idea was said to have been mooted first in June when a sequence of visa liberalisation proposals for Georgia, Kosovo, Turkey and Ukraine were presented along with an entry/exit system.

Bertaud said that they obviously welcomed the Franco-German proposal and it was the reason that they announced in June of making proposals this autumn.

Paris and Berlin’s other proposal includes new EU norms that mobile message service operators would be required to provide authorisation to encrypted content for carrying out investigations related to terrorism.

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