Statewatch News online: "Fortress Europe - Stage 2": EU Border Police proposed

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"Fortress Europe - Stage 2": EU Border Police proposed

On 7 May the European Commission produced a Communication entitled: "Towards integrated management of the external borders of the Member States of the EU" (COM(2002)233 final, 7.5.02). The Communication follows the instruction given by the European Council (the 15 EU governments) meeting in Laeken on 14-15 December to put forward proposals.

The speed and urgency proposed by the Commission is due to a long-standing distrust of the border controls ability of the countries applying to join the EU and to the post 11 September direction of the EU which puts "security" above all else - as the Commission Communication states: "The European Union's external borders are.. a place where a common security identity is asserted"

Text of the Commission Communication (Word)
has prepared an analysis on the Communication: Analysis (html)

The core proposals are for:

1. The creation of an "External borders practitioners common unit" which will put into effect the many short and medium term measures including joint multinational teams.

2. The introduction of a "security procedure" called "PROSECUR" based on "direct links and exchanges" of "data and information between authorities concerned with security at external borders". PROSECUR would have access to the Schengen Information System (SIS), "privileged links with Europol", access to the new database being created on visas and its own "encrypted Intranet".

3. In the long term the creation of a European Corps of Border Guards (no longer controlled and accountable at the national level) with a: "permanent headquarters staff structure charged with its operational command, the management of its personnel and equipment"

The special analysis for Statewatch concludes:

"there is marginal reference to protection of asylum-seekers, no mention at all of data protection or other human rights considerations, and no suggested rules for the legal or political accountability or control of the common unit and the information system of the Border Corps. In fact the Commission explicitly suggests setting up the new information exchange system without any legal rules whatsoever governing its operation."

"As for PROSECUR, the Commission explicitly envisions that it will only be placed on a legal footing in the 'long term'. Unless the operation of PROSECUR in the meantime is confined merely to non-personal data, and/or making use of the existing rules of access governing existing databases which include personal data (which seems unlikely from the tenor of the Communication), then the legality of this approach is extremely doubtful. It is clear from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights that any measures interfering with the right to private and family life must be 'prescribed by law'; a purely informal decision to exchange personal data would therefore breach the European Convention on Human Rights. In fact the words 'data protection' do not even appear anywhere in the Communication."

"There is no discussion of the rules that would have to govern such a Corps as regards data protection, protection of human rights and asylum rules or judicial and political accountability. The main route of accountability envisioned seems to be control by the 'common unit', but this would further beg the question in turn as to the adequacy of judicial and legal controls on the common unit."

Story filed 10.5.02

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