© German Federal Police
The "Smart Borders" Package was proposed by the Commission in February 2013. It follows the European Commission (EC) Communication of February 2008 suggesting the establishment of an Entry/Exit System (EES) and a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP).
It aims to improve the management of the external borders of the Schengen Member States, fight against irregular immigration and provide information on overstayers, as well as facilitate border crossings for pre-vetted frequent third country national (TCN) travellers.
During the first examination of the Smart Borders Package, which was completed in February 2014, the Council and the European Parliament (EP) voiced technical, operational and cost concerns, mainly related to the overall feasibility of the proposed new systems and of some of their features.
In order to further assess the technical, organisational and financial impacts of the various possible ways to address these issues, the Commission subsequently initiated – with the support of both Member States and the EP - a proof of concept exercise aimed at identifying options for implementing the Smart Borders Package. This exercise consisted of two stages:
- A Commission-led Technical Study aimed at identifying and assessing the most suitable and promising options and solutions.
- A Testing phase entrusted by the Commission to the Agency for the Operational Management of large-scale IT Systems in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), aimed at verifying the feasibility of the options identified in the Technical Study and validating the selected concepts for both automated and manual border controls.
In October 2014, the first stage was completed with the delivery of the Technical Study (see the executive summary) and Costs Study.
The testing phase took place in 12 countries in 18 air, sea and land border crossing points and involved nearly 58 000 third country national travelers and about 350 border guards. In November 2015, the testing phase carried out by eu-LISA was completed with the delivery of the Smart Borders Pilot report on the technical conclusions (see also the executive summary of the report and the annexes to the technical report).
In the context of the preparation of a revised proposal, the Commission launched a public consultation on the Smart Borders Package from the 29 July 2015 to the 29 October 2015, welcoming all citizens (EU nationals and non-EU nationals) and organisations to contribute. In December 2015, the Commission published the results of the public consultation. The Commission also prepared an Impact Assessment (part 1, part 2 and part 3) (see also the executive summary of the Impact Assessment).
On 6 April 2016, the Commission adopted a revised legislative proposal for Smart Borders. The revised legislative proposal for Smart Borders includes: a Regulation for the establishment of an Entry/Exit System (annex) and a proposed amendment to the Schengen Borders Code to integrate the technical changes needed for the Entry/Exit System (annex).