"With this deal, we are better equipped to secure Europe's external borders and detect potential security risks - two crucial priorities for the EPP Group”, explained Jeroen Lenaers MEP.

His statement came after the European Parliament and the Member States agreed this afternoon on technical changes necessary to put in place the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), an EU-wide automated IT system to strengthen security checks on visitors to the EU.

Lenaers, who negotiated the new law on behalf of the European Parliament, said: "Today's agreement is an important step to having in place a fully operational system of checks and assessments allowing us to know who is entering the EU, from where and, if they pose a risk to EU security or irregular migration, to ultimately refuse entry. The technical changes we agreed upon will connect the ETIAS pre-screening central system to other EU information systems and Europol data and thus allow for ETIAS to become fully effective by the end of 2022. With this system finally up and running, our police officers and border guards will have an important additional tool to continue to keep our EU borders secure and our citizens safe."

The EPP Group has consistently led EU efforts in securing Europe's external borders. In 2018, the EPP Group spearheaded the creation of ETIAS. The system was created to identify any potential security or irregular migration risks associated with visa-exempt third country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. ETIAS will not apply to EU citizens nor will it replace visas.

Today's informal agreement still needs the formal approval of the European Parliament and Member States.