EU Officially Announces Signing the Contract for Large-Scale Biometric Database to Enhance Border Security

Europe’s Entry/Exit System, a database that among others is set to replace passport stamps and enhance border security in EU, is one step closer to its establishment as the eu-LISA has awarded a consortium of IDEMIA and Sopra Steria a contract for the delivery of a new shared Biometric Matching System (sBMS), an important part of the EES.

The eu-LISA – which is the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, also responsible for the development of the Entry/Exit System and its operational management – has signed a contract with the consortium, which needs to complete the development of the sBMS by 2022.

The duration of the contract is, however, four years, and extendable for up to six years.

According to a press release of the consortium, the sBMS will be one of the largest biometric databases in the world, containing information for over 400 million third-country nationals, including fingerprints and facial images.

Based on European biometrics technology, this new system will first serve the identification needs of the new European Entry/Exit System, thus being the cornerstone of the protection of European borders,” the press release explains.

It also notes that the shared Biometric Matching System will make possible the protection of the external borders in the long term by helping in the fight against irregular immigration and trans-border crime.

Aside from the future Entry/Exit System (EES), the sBMS will also serve to other EU security systems as follows:

  • Schengen Information System (SIS)
  • Visa Information System (VIS)
  • Eurodac (European Asylum Dactyloscopy Database)
  • ECRIS-TCN (European Criminal Records Information System for Third Country Nationals)

The Entry/Exit System (EES) is a new scheme, for the establishment of which the eu-Lisa is currently working. As soon as it comes into force, the EES will register entry and exit data of non-EU nationals crossing the external borders of the Schengen Area Member States.

It has been established in a bid of the EU to strengthen and protect the external borders of the Schengen Area and to safeguard and increase security for its citizens.

Once the EEA becomes effective, all embassies or other authorities responsible for the processing of Schengen visa applications shall consult the EES first, before granting extending, annulling or revoking a Schengen visa.