EU Summit: Agreement on "harmonised" biometric identification linked to EU databases

The EU Summit has backed the allocation 140 million euros to developing controls at
borders and of databases. This includes the Visa Information System (VIS) and the next
generation Schengen Information System (SIS II):

"a coherent approach is needed in the EU on biometric identifiers or biometric data,
which could result in harmonised solutions for documents for third country nationals,
EU citizens' passports and information systems (VIS and SIS II)"

The Visa Information System will log all applications for visas to enter the EU, the length of
stay, arrival and departure date, and those to be refused entry. The SIS holds list of those to
be refused entry (Article 96) and people or vehicles to be placed under surveillance (Article
99). As at 5 March 2003 data was held on a total of 780,992 people under Article 96 and
there were 16,016 entries under Article 99. It also holds the names and details on a number
of protestors detained over the past two years.

The demand for the introduction of harmonised biometric data (eg: fingerprints, DNA or iris
scans) has been lead by the US post-11 September who have been backed by the UK.
This was first announced in the US Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of May
2002 and is to be introduced from October 2004 at an estimated cost of $3.8 billion. All
passports and visas for those entering the USA will be compulsory.

The proposal was discussed at the G8 meeting in May. At this meeting UK Home
Secretary said that biometric data would be included on UK passports from 2006
embedded in a microchip - which may contain other unspecified data.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This will mean the mandatory introduction of biometric and maybe other data on all
travellers - whether migrants, visitors or EU citizens. The adoption of this decision
for the wholesale surveillance of peoples' movements by the EU Council (the 15
Prime Ministers) has been taken without any public consultation or debate in
parliaments. The EU Council cannot legislate but its decisions are routinely
translated into EU law - it is a totally undemocratic procedure."


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