The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee approved Thursday new draft rules according to which third country nationals exempt from visa requirements upon entering the Schengen area, including those from Macedonia, will need to apply for a travel authorization before coming to the EU.
The new European Travel and Authorization System (ETIAS) will allow for advanced checks on visa-free travelers and those considered posing a risk in terms of security, irregular migration or high epidemic risk would be denied access.
Under the new rules, non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area will have to fill in an electronic form with their personal data (including name, date and place of birth, sex and nationality), travel document information (validity, country of issue), home address and contact information, and the Europe country of first intended entry.
The travel authorization will cost EUR 10, although some travelers will be exempted from paying this fee (persons under 18 and over 60 years of age, family members of EU citizens and students a researchers travelling for academic purposes), and it will be valid for three years.
The electronic application will be processed in less than 72 hours.
There are currently more than 60 countries and territories whose nationals can travel visa-free to the EU.
The European Commission expects a significant increase in the number of visa-exempt travelers crossing the Schengen borders in the coming years, from 30 million in 2014 to 39 million in 2020.
The costs of developing ETIAS are estimated at EUR 212,1 million, and the average annual cost at EUR 85 million.
The system could be operational in 2020.
Once the draft laws are confirmed by the European Parliament as a whole, EP negotiators will be able to open talks with EU Ministers on the final form of the legislation.