EU: Biometric borders: half the member states see "high risks" for Entry/Exit System plans


Half of the EU's member states "foresee high risks" for the plan to have the biometric Entry/Exit System (EES) border crossing database up and running by the end of September this year, citing problems with testing, procurement, training and the adaptation of border infrastructure.

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Details of the problems with the construction and implementation of the EES - which will require all non-EU citizens entering the EU to provide four fingerprints and a photograph to the authorities, to be stored in a gigantic centralised database, the Common Identity Repository - are outlined in a presentation given by the French Presidency to the Council of the EU's Working Party on Frontiers in March (pdf).

According to the presentation, which is based on a questionnaire to which 24 member states responded, five states "mentioned the delays in the development of the testing environment," and some states "reported problems with tender/procurement procedures."

Furthermore, the need to adapt infrastructure to install biometric border control gates and a global "shortage of chip supplies" is causing problems for the training of staff, "even more so during the high season".

Difficulties with land border crossings - where travellers tend to be in cars or other vehicles, causing problems for traffic flow if they have to get out to go through biometric enrolment and registration - means that "the development of new technological solutions, such as mobile devices, gather support," says the presentation.

A European Commission document published by Statewatch last year that outlined delays in the implementation of the EU's new migration databases - a major part of the "interoperability" scheme - noted that:

"Any delay for the implementation of the Entry/Exit System would hamper the start of operation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and initiate a domino effect having negative consequences on reaching the end-2023 target date [for having the interoperability architecture up-and-running]."

Concern from member states follows a December decision to put back some of the individual timelines that make up the 'interoperability' plan, whilst keeping the overall deadlines in place.


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Image: Braden Kowitz, CC BY-SA 2.0

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