The European Union has officially postponed the implementation of the biometric Entry/Exit System (EES) for the Schengen Area, now aiming for an Autumn 2024 rollout. The Schengen Area, known for its unrestricted travel between member states, has been working towards enhancing border security through the EES. However, the new deadline suggests a shift in the timeline, allowing for a more phased approach in capturing and storing biometrics across different member states.
An official note from the presidency of the body overseeing the project stated that the “capturing and storing of biometrics… could be activated progressively.” This indicates a possibility of different biometric border control systems coming online at various times across member states. The shift could offer Schengen states more flexibility, while also potentially moving away from the idea of a firm deadline, especially after the project has seen multiple delays.
The delay isn’t a first for the EES. As reported on January 23, 2023, this was not the first time the implementation deadline was pushed back. These delays also had a domino effect on other EU projects. For instance, the implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) was postponed to 2025 due to the EES delays, as the latter project is important for securing the Schengen free travel area’s borders.
The move towards a phased implementation also reflects the varying readiness levels of different member states in terms of biometric technology infrastructure and data handling capabilities. It’s a pragmatic step that acknowledges the complexities involved in harmonizing biometric border controls across diverse national contexts. As the EU works towards the new Autumn 2024 deadline, the focus will likely remain on balancing the urgency of enhanced border security with the practicalities of implementing a sophisticated, bloc-wide biometric system.
October 23, 2023 – by the FindBiometrics Editorial Team