In a letter to several EU member states and the Commission, the U.S. government threatens a new condition for visa-free entry. There is confusion in Brussels over a response. Parliament was the last to be informed about the initiative, although it concerns fingerprints and facial images.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and the European Union have entered into several data-sharing agreements. The TFTP treaty, for example, gives U.S. authorities details of global financial transactions through the Belgian company SWIFT. The PNR agreement forces the transfer of passenger data before each flight. Both agreements were controversial among data protectionists and fought over in the EU Parliament.
Now a new, much more far-reaching agreement in the security field is on the agenda. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is demanding direct access to police biometric databases in the EU. The fingerprints and facial images stored there are intended to facilitate the identification of individuals in the context of U.S. immigration controls.
The initiative is known as the Enhanced Border Security Partnership (EBSP). Initially, participation is voluntary. But starting in 2027, it will become mandatory under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows visa-free entry into the United States for up to 90 days.