“We are examining the fate of Schengen in a continuous cycle and we are attempting to adjust to the manner in which it adapts to the new reality.” Eric Mamer, EC’s Chief Spokesperson said this in November 2020 when ETIAS was also introduced.
The European Commission plans to reorganize the border-free Schengen Area
Macron recently requested an upgrade of the Schengen Zone covering 26 nations, following the terror incidents in Paris and Nice.
The French president is asking for more strict boundary controls of the EU, particularly with Spain.
France has insisted on interior controls for five years, for security reasons in the midst of an on-going highly sensitive situation. Others like Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and non-EU state Norway additionally refer to migratory movements as an explanation.
The EU’s border guard organization, Frontex, has started hiring new specialists in January 2021. This first batch of specialists will empower a much bigger organization of more than 10,000 new Frontex employees.
“We are drawing a connection between the improvement and future of Schengen, and the long-awaited migration and asylum pact settlement,” noted Mamer.
In September 2020, EC President Ursula von der Leyen made similar comments. She then said that the Commission is about to suggest a new approach towards a pending Schengen update.
In November 2020, all the EU interior ministers attended the First Schengen Forum. Ursula von der Leyen, EC VP Margaritis Schinas, and the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson were also there. This was a fundamental event “towards a stronger and more resilient Schengen Area”.
How will those Schengen Area changes reflect on travelers?
Most of the updates are generally on the overseeing and arranging side rather than changes that residents or voyagers will ever notice. The greatest innovation will be in 2022 with ETIAS becoming mandatory. All the visa-free nationals will have to apply for the new travel permit to enter Europe.
The positive feedback from the First Schengen Forum has resulted in follow-up discussions and another Forum scheduled for Spring 2021. The second meeting will deal with the challenges from the interim months.
More ETIAS details were communicated to a broader audience
In late 2022, the European Union is planning to launch ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) to support its travel policies. The ETIAS will serve as a visa waiver for citizens from nations whose residents at the present moment enjoy visa-free travel to Europe.
The ETIAS visa waiver would work pretty much as other electronic visa applications do. Similar electronic travel authorizations are the US ESTA and the Canada ETA. They are all falling under the category of special travel permits, and not an actual visa.
Candidates from visa waiver nations will apply a couple of days before their planned trip by submitting an online ETIAS application form and would wait for its positive confirmation.
This new process may feel like a burden for tourists as they were not obliged to apply for extra travel permit up to now. However, the EU leaders confirmed that ETIAS will be fast and simple to obtain. The final result aims to create a safer environment for both travellers and citizens within EU borders.
ETIAS might affect the Schengen Area as well
The European Union established the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 European member countries, which is one of the major EU’s achievements.
The Schengen Area got its name from a tiny Luxembourg city. There, representatives from five of the current ten European Communities put pen to paper back in 1985.
The motivation behind the initial Schengen Area formation was to cancel identification control for individuals who were crossing starting with one part state then onto the next. This way, people working at the border areas were no longer to queue at the frontier. It also supported the travel industry thru the whole span of the EU.
The expansion from five nations to 26 in the following 35 years has grown the travel industry ventures throughout Europe. Non-European nationals, managed to arrange their trips and to visit various spots and countries without caring about visa applications or considerable delays at borderline control.
There were five main topics undergoing current discussions:
- Changes that were intended to target and improve the Schengen Area’s present frameworks for observing and ID
- Foundation of a regular Schengen Forum to constantly check the situation and any available options for enhancement
- A long-awaited refresh of the Schengen Borders Code. It will further guarantee the opportunity of free movement while supporting advanced safety concepts
- Stronger and more effective communication frameworks among police and border authorities. The purpose is to create a common process to deal with recognizing and following potential emergencies
- Lastly, the previously mentioned ETIAS. It is planned to guarantee that the residents and travellers inside the Schengen Area are as free and safe from threats as possible