EU: Official evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur)

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Official evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)
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The European Commission has published an evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), which recommends that the system be expanded for the "systematic inclusion" of all border crossing points; the monitoring of "secondary movements" of migrants within the EU; and to develop new services and better cooperate with "third parties", for example through "big data analysis" of EU databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System and Europol's computer systems.

See: Evaluation of the Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 establishing the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) (SWD(2018) 410 final, 12 September 2018, pdf)

And: Report from the Commission on the evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (COM(2018) 632 final, 12 September 2018, pdf)

The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has also published its own evaluation of the effect of EUROSUR on fundamental rights. The report was commissioned to provide information for the European Commission's own evaluation of the system. It examines Frontex's development and use of EUROSUR and cooperation with non-EU states in the context of EUROSUR.

The FRA report concludes that, with regard to Frontex's development and use of the system:

  • Overall, Frontex pays attention to implement the Eurosur Regulation in a fundamental rights compliant manner, including also through well-designed training. The attention given to the protection of personal data in the Eurosur Handbook and in the Eurosur training appears effective in reducing the risk of inadvertent data protection violations and should therefore be continued.
  • With the further development of Eurosur, new fundamental rights risks may emerge, for example, in relation to the processing of photographs and videos of vessels with migrants by maritime surveillance aircrafts or concerning algorithms used to track suspicious vessels.
  • There are areas where the recording of border surveillance incidents in Eurosur could be improved, for example, by clearly marking incidents related to search and rescue. Other adjustments in the way incidents at the border are captured and recorded would enable the user to have a more comprehensive picture and thus better realise the potential of Eurosur to protect fundamental rights of migrants and asylum seekers, including children.

Regarding cooperation with non-EU states ("third countries"), the FRA reviewed "seven bilateral agreements, protocols and memoranda of understanding concluded by EU Member States with third countries and one regional convention, which serve as a basis for information exchange under Eurosur."

The report finds:

  • None of the documents reviewed [contain wording formally contradicting fundamental rights, but a number of them lack express safeguards to promote a fundamental rights-compatible implementation. For future agreements, the report suggests including safeguard clauses in the agreements that would provide for implementation in conformity with fundamental rights and in particular with the principle of non-refoulement;
  • Building on the good practice of some of the reviewed documents, standard clauses reflecting the core data protection safeguards, as set out in Council of Europe Convention No. 108, should be considered for agreements entailing the exchange of personal data.
  • The agreements FRA reviewed do not contain a duty to assess the general situation in the third country before border surveillance information is shared, although several Member States do this in practice. FRA, therefore, suggests more systematic and regular assessments of the situation in the third country which data exchanges are envisaged with, and the inclusion of regular updates on the human rights situation in relevant third countries in the analytical layer of the European Situational Picture.

See: FRA: How the Eurosur Regulation affects fundamental rights (pdf)

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