New plans to check EU citizens at external borders

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On Tuesday the 21st of June, the Civil Liberties Committee of MEPs has endorsed new plans to tighten up security checks on the EU’s external borders.

 

The EU Commission proposed new procedures to screen all EU citizens, and third party nationals, crossing the EU’s external borders. The new system will aim at uncovering those traveling on false identities by checking all passengers against a series of EU wide and national security databases, including Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database (SLTD) and the Schengen Information System.

The proposal, which amends the current Schengen Borders Code, comes in response to the recent terror attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels, and the threat posed by EU citizens joining international terror groups, on top of the continued problem of irregular migration and human trafficking.

Monica Macovei, the writer of the new regulation, commented: “The right to life is the most basic of human rights. The recent terrorist attacks bitterly demonstrate the current threat to Europe’s internal security and proves that changes are needed.”

She added, “It is also worth giving up some of our comforts and time, even if this means longer queues at the borders, in order to save lives.”

Although the proposal passed a vote by the Civil Liberties Committee of MEPs 48 votes to 6, members have amended the plans in an attempt to alleviate concerns the new checks will increase border traffic. In the event of border congestion, EU member can target their checks at specified border crossings. In such a case EU citizens would still have to undergo a ‘rapid’ check on their standard travel documents, while the checks on third country nationals will remain mandatory. This ‘rapid’ option however will only be available if it can first be proved that such a relaxation would not increase security risks.

These developments come in a year which has seen the reintroduction of national border checks within the Schengen zone. Europe’s internal open borders have faced recent scrutiny and pressures over the mass influx of migrants through the southern border. Temporarily border controls have been introduced in Norway, France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden.

After the recent vote, the new proposals now proceed into negotiations for a first reading agreement.

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