What is the ETIAS watchlist and how will it keep Europe safe?

ETIAS watchlist

The ETIAS watchlist will be an important part of the new travel authorisation framework. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System is being introduced to increase security across the Schengen Area by pre-screening third-country nationals before they arrive in Europe.

This will be achieved by cross-checking travellers’ data across several international security databases and the ETIAS for Europe watchlist.

This article explains what qualifies an individual for inclusion on the watchlist and how it will make Europe an even safer destination for Canadian tourists.

What is the ETIAS watchlist?

Article 34 of the ETIAS regulation provides details about the ETIAS watchlist. The watchlist is essentially a list of individuals considered a threat to Europe.

The ETIAS watchlist will contain the names and some details of individuals who are known to have been involved in terrorism or other serious crime.

Those suspected of having taken part in such illegal activity will also appear on the list, as will any individual likely to commit serious crimes in the future.

The ETIAS watchlist will be compiled using the UN’s list of war criminals, information provided by member states as well as cooperating non-EU nations.

How will the ETIAS watchlist work?

From 2022, eligible foreigners will need to complete the online ETIAS application form.

As part of the application, passport data and a few basic personal details are required, including the full name, date of birth, and the birthplace of the applicant, the passport number, expiry and issue date.

Once the application has been submitted for review, this data will be automatically cross-checked against information stored on the ETIAS watchlist.

Any connections between the applicant and one of the names or other details held on the ETIAS watchlist will result in a hit in the system.

Should this occur, the application will go on to be processed manually by the ETIAS Central Unit and National Units.

Any individual considered a risk to the public based on these findings will not be granted an ETIAS and will, therefore, be unable to cross the external Schengen border legally.

Organisations responsible for the ETIAS watchlist

Article 35 of the ETIAS regulation states that Europol and the Member States are responsible for entering data into the ETIAS watchlist. In both cases, they are required to ensure that the information is accurate and adequate.

Europol and the Member States are also responsible for making sure that information stored on the watchlist is kept up to date.

Europol will frequently, at least once a year, review the accuracy of the data entered into the database to guarantee reliable results. Out of date or obsolete data will be removed from the ETIAS watchlist.

ETIAS handles personal information in line with Europe’s data protection laws.

The technical development of the ETIAS watchlist, as well as the verification tool, will be done by eu-LISA.

Other Schengen Area security databases

The ETIAS watchlist will be used in conjunction with a number of other Schengen security databases that will, together, boost security and safety across the EU.

In addition to being screened against the ETIAS watchlist, traveller data will be also run through the following systems:

  • The Schengen Information System (SIS): data sharing between member states
  • The Visa Information System (VIS): exchanging information about short-stay visa applications
  • EURODAC: responsible for examining asylum applications
  • ECRIS: the criminal records information system

In the majority of cases, there will be no red flags during the automatic screening process and the ETIAS will be granted at this stage.

Applications that do result in a hit in any of the security databases, including the ETIAS watchlist, will be analysed manually before a decision is reached on whether to allow the individual into the Schengen Area. The overall result of which is a safer Europe for all.