Technical issues hit EU biometric border plan, potentially delaying 2022 launch

The EU’s updated biometric border control system, the Entry / Exit System (EES), suffers from huge technical and organizational problems and is expected to be completed after summer 2022, missing the tentative deadline of May 2022 due to semiconductor shortages, according to a “confidential letter” published by Statewatch.

The Entry / exit system (EES) will be an automated IT system using biometric components, for the registration of travelers from third countries, visa holders and visa exempt travelers. This aims to help third country nationals to travel more easily while identifying more over-stay persons as well as cases of document and identity fraud.

Americans, British, Montenegrins and Georgians are just a few of those who will be affected. Although they are currently allowed to travel without a visa to the 26 countries of the Schengen area in Europe, they will soon have to apply for a travel authorization to enter the area.

About 1.4 billion travelers from over 60 countries are expected to be affected by the eventual implementation of the EES, managed by the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

The project requires complex global interoperability and local legal changes to enable uses such as screening passengers crossing borders and to allow law enforcement to verify identities using biometrics in certain circumstances.

In a letter to EU ministers This month, the chairman of the board of EU-Lisa explained that the recent global shortage of semiconductor chips has caused delays in the national implementation of EES systems. EU-Lisa’s contractual partner has been blamed for some of the delays, as well as global supply chain shortages for the necessary materials.

System interoperability testing is a major part of the delay, according to a second document; the renewed Schengen Information System (SIS) (for border security and management) has suffered setbacks and will be part of the network to which the EES will connect. To function properly, the EES must connect to the Visa Information System (VIS) as well as to a common database for the comparison of biometric characteristics.

This Shared Biometric Matching System (SBMS) must meet the identification requirements of the EES and is designed as a top-level storage for identity data. The goal of the project is to convert SIS to biometrics via a research portal from 2023, according to the letter.

Articles topics

biometric identification | biometrics | border management | border security | entry / exit | EU | identity verification | interoperability | travel and tourism

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