EU: Integrated European Border Management Strategy

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"None of the policy options contribute markedly to reducing terrorism or serious crime"

Perhaps the most revealing document in the EU's Justice and Home Affairs package on exit-entry and border management is: Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document to the Communication New tools for an integrated European Border Management Strategy: Impact Assessment, Draft v (17/1/2008) (pdf)

- On the role of EU databases like the Schengen Information System (SIS) and terrorism: As the "perpetrators" have mainly been EU citizens or living in the EU with official permits:

"None of the policy options contribute markedly to reducing terrorism or serious crime...In view of the latest terrorist acts in the area of the EU, it can be noted that the perpetrators have mainly been EU citizens or foreigners residing and living in the Member States with official permits.

Usually there has been no information about these people or about their terrorist connections in the registers, for example in the SIS or national databases. The entry/exit system does not register entries or exits of the EU citizens or their relatives. Therefore, the entry/exit system will not be able to have an impact on this specific target group."

- USA entry-exit procedures: "A total of 1,500 people were rejected at the border (but it is not clear how many of them could be classified as serious criminals or terrorist).Information on how many terrorists were rejected at the border is not available."

- a number of Case Studies are cited but these include those using irises as the biometric identifier - which are not going to be used in any EU-wide system and none of the examples involved large-scale numbers of passengers being handled.

Finally, the proposed "Automated Border Control" processing is described in detail - which is labour-saving as no people are involved:

"Automated Border Control processes normally consist of the following: Fingerprint matching would be used in conjunction with an automated gate and kiosk.The traveller enters the automated gate area, possibly by presenting their passport in order to open a door that closes behind them once they have entered ( to ensure only one passenger uses the gate at a time).

The kiosk prompts the traveller to present the e-passport for scanning (visual and electronic) and is prompted to present one or two fingerprints for scanning. The fingerprint image is captured and the system converts both the captured image and the image stored on the e-passport into templates and attempts to match them, according to predetermined thresholds. If a good match is achieved, a second gate opens and the traveller is allowed to cross the border. If there is not a good enough match, or any other problem occurs, the gate does not open and the traveller is directed for processing by a border guard."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The idea that visitors and possibly EU citizens - including children aged six and above - should enter an enclosed box and be told what to do by machines and for computers to decide whether to let us out or not is a quite appalling proposal.

We are told it will save money because no officials need to be involved and that the EU should embrace all the benefits of modern technological developments. If this is the price of "progress" it is a bridge too far."

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