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Improved border checks for travel facilitation across external borders and improved experiences for both passengers and border authorities’ staff

Research should develop and systematically test and validate solutions to speed up and facilitate the border crossing experience (at land, sea and/or border crossing points for both travellers and staff of border authorities. Systems for easier border crossings, while maintaining security and reliability, would further advance one or more capabilities including the capabilities of border guards to do checks in mobility; of identifying and/or controlling passengers (and their vehicles and/or luggage) without stopping them; and/or of temporarily setting up or scaling up the capacity of certain border crossing points within a relatively short notice. Systems should integrate solutions being able to offer these capabilities in a flexible way and at the same time process border checks for a range of cases and types of passengers (for example EU nationals, third-country nationals, ETIAS/non-ETIAS eligible, persons recorded in a national facilitation programme, etc.).

For one aspect of the border crossing system, mobile or transportable technologies would enable authorities to quickly react to actual situations at the borders. In some scenarios, border checks are not only carried out in fixed crossing points, but also exceptionally in temporary points. New technologies can support authorities on document and information checks and verification (e.g. scanning passports, biometric verification, customs declarations, etc.), including health or security checks as necessary, establishing a secure and reliable communication channel to a backend service and providing immediate feedback to the field officer. Special considerations should be given to situations where officers operate in limited space areas (e.g. inside a train, on the road, onboard a ship in a port area). Equipment should not be heavy or bulky and should not restrict their freedom of movement. Solutions should have the potential to contribute to a better border crossing experience for travellers, operators and authorities, improving flows at border crossing points while maintaining or improving reliability and security of checks.

For another aspect of the border crossing system, research should advance the capabilities to capture and use biometrics of travellers without them having to stop and in natural contexts for border checks, in full respect of fundamental rights and considerations to safeguard data and integrity. Proposed research that could also link with innovation for fighting crime and terrorism beyond only the border checks (for example, biometrics capabilities that could help law enforcement to fight trafficking of human beings) would be an asset.

Projects should address the various components of an integrated system, test and validate it in real operational environment. Proposals should be convincing in explaining the frameworks (tools, methods, procedures, resources and criteria) they intend to use for demonstrating, testing and validating the operational performance of the systems; these frameworks will also include assessments of manufacturability, cost-effectiveness, efficiency and integration with existing systems.

While some components studied could be more innovative and brought to mid-TRL, most components are expected to arrive at high TRL and be demonstrated by projects in relevant, operational or real environments with operations and exercises for validation by practitioners. Proposals should also delineate the plans for further uptake (industrialisation, commercialisation, acquisition and/or deployment) at national and EU level, after the research project and should it deliver on its goals, of the border crossing facilitation systems that they will demonstrate in the research project. Projects are also recommended to integrate impact assessments, including leveraging insights from previous research, in investigating and developing the solutions they propose.

Proposals under this topic are expected to address the priorities of the European Border and Coast Guard and of its Agency (Frontex) starting from the design of their work, and engage with the Agency in the development of the project. Proposals should give a key role to Frontex in validating the project outcomes, with the aim of facilitating future uptake of innovations for the border and coast guard community.

Research projects should consider, build on if appropriate and not duplicate previous research, including but not limiting to research by other Framework Programmes projects such as those on border checks capabilities, risk-based integrated border control systems, travel facilitation, biometrics and document security, as well as and EU studies on potential applications of technologies to the improvement of border management capabilities.