Technology case study

Helping the European Union pilot new biometric smart border systems in real time

Client: European Commission

Our Role: Technology consultants, project managers for pilot testing

Industry: Government and public services

Services: Test and optimise biometric border controls, Technology

Region: Europe

Client challenge

Travel volume in and around the European Union is expected to grow to 300 million people annually by 2025, up 60 percent from 2015. This increase, coupled with a heightened security threat, is putting pressure on border controls. To counter this challenge, the EU is planning to upgrade its current border control systems with more extensive use of biometric technology – fingerprinting, iris and facial recognition systems – at hundreds of crossings. The task is to design and implement a system that keeps people safe and products flowing at all air, land and sea borders.


PwC worked with the EU and 28 member states on a comprehensive feasibility study and then ran a pilot programme in 12 countries at 18 border control points that interacted with 70,000 travellers over 12 months. This programme tested the pros and cons of different biometric solutions, including kiosks and the e-gates associated with them.

PwC ran 78 types of trials to assess the speed, reliability and user-acceptance of the technology, collecting measurable indicators that could help support data-driven policymaking. This provided the European Commission with a comprehensive and detailed analysis of potential solutions in a clear and timely manner.


Because PwC, working with the Commission, brought together strategic experts with strong technical know-how and public- and private-sector experience, the pilot was able to test the robustness of the technology in real-time situations with real people while helping maintain public safety. The results of the pilot and of the analysis performed gave the Commission confidence to develop the legislation necessary to introduce the new border control system. This legislation was adopted by the European Parliament in November 2017 and the new biometric control system will be in place at all EU borders by 2020.


“PwC welcomes the opportunity to use its technical and management expertise to develop the EU border transformation process to help mitigate public safety threats. This transformation will impact all stakeholders, public and private, across the globe and set a new standard in terms of border control and security management without compromising speed and convenience.”

Philippe PierreGlobal Lead, Partner, EU Services, PwC Luxembourg

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Reach out to start a conversation

Philippe Pierre

PwC Global Leader European Union Institutions (EU), PwC EU Services EEIG General Manager, Luxembourg, PwC Luxembourg

+352 49 48 48 4313


Contact us

Philippe Pierre

Philippe Pierre

PwC Global Leader European Union Institutions (EU), PwC EU Services EEIG General Manager, PwC Luxembourg

Tel: +352 49 48 48 4313