In the margins of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council held on 08 October 2021, eu-LISA provided a detailed report concerning the situation with the implementation of the Entry-Exit System (EES). The conclusion of the Agency was that, due to delays beyond eu-LISA's control, it will not be possible to meet the original deadline for the Entry-into-Operation of the system in May 2022 as planned. Subsequently, the Council gave a mandate to eu-LISA together with the Member States and the Commission to develop an alternative scenario for the implementation of EES and to report its conclusions to the JHA Council at the beginning of December 2021.
Following two months of intense collaboration and cooperation with all parties involved, on 9 December 2021, eu-LISA presented the alternative scenario to the EU Home Affairs ministers gathered at the JHA Council in Brussels. Pre-conditions and key factors taken into account in the alternative scenario include:
The overall unchanged deadline for the implementation of the new interoperability architecture by the end of 2023;
The allocation of reasonable time for the implementation of planned activities at European and national level;
The inclusion of all the Interoperability architecture building blocks (EES, ETIAS, Interoperability components, ECRIS-TCN and SIS);
The summer, Christmas and New Year periods should be avoided as times for Entry-into-Operations of new systems that affect borders;
The newly devised scenario has met with the approval of eu-LISA's governance bodies as well as that of the European Commission, and was also endorsed by the Council yesterday.
The new timeline foresees that the Entry-into-Operation of the Entry/Exit System (EES) will be postponed from May 2022 to the end September 2022, the European Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) from December 2022 to mid-May 2023 and the revised Schengen Information System (SIS) from February 2022 to June 2022. The final deadline for the full implementation of interoperability, end of 2023, remains unchanged.
The new scenario however is demanding towards all stakeholders involved in its implementation. There are a high number of tasks that have to be executed in parallel and a limited margin for setbacks. Though it involves a range of risks, it is important to emphasize that, considering the complexity of the work at stake, a risk-free scenario does not exist.
The substantial progress made so far, despite the various challenges and difficulties that eu-LISA and the Member States have had to face highlights that, collectively, all parties have the ability to successfully deliver the most complex global transformation programme for border management and internal security.