The world first learned of the ETIAS visa waiver system at the end of 2016, a year
where the EU was hit by frequent terrorist attacks. After 135 EU citizens died, the
EU could not afford to allow anybody to come into the Schengen area on just a
passport. An initial launch date of 2021 was planned, but COVID presented a more
existential threat than terrorism, and ETIAS was sidelined. As the world emerges
from the COVID crisis, the EU has announced a new launch date of 2023.
The EU will now be thankful for the delay which helped them to construct artificial
intelligence data processing systems. More border and administrative staff will
still be required, but the AI systems are set to significantly reduce the human
resources required to run the ETIAS visa waiver system. Only Saint Lucians whose
applications are flagged by the system for posing a risk to Europe will have
applications processed by a human administrative worker.
The EU will still have to hire more staff to run the ETIAS visa waiver system
because the AI technology will offer little help on the border. They will still need
scores more border staff and some commentators are concerned that the EU is
struggling to make the required new hires. Saint Lucians should not expect this will
delay the launch of ETIAS, but they should expect border staff to take longer to
process them as a result.