EU proposes its own border registration programme
In response to the London bombings in July 2005, the Justice and Home Affairs Council and the UK's Presidency of the EU are proposing a number of additional measures including a border registration programme that will mimic US-VISIT, and access to databases on immigrants that will mimic the failed MATRIX programme. The measures are discussed in 'next steps' for the EU (available on the Statewatch website).
Sharing immigration data
Despite the fact that the London bombings were perpretated by EU citizens the Council is calling for greater access to visa databases.
It is essential that EU information systems are used to their maximum potential in enhancing our collective ability to identify individuals who pose a serious threat to the internal security of Member States. In order to achieve this goal Member States law enforcement agencies must, subject to strict data protection provisions, have an appropriate form of access to European information databases that can play a role in contributing towards improving internal security and the fight against terrorism.
Following adoption in March 2005 of Council Conclusions on access to the VIS by Member State authorities responsible for internal security, and the July 2005 Council Declaration on the EU response to the London bombings, the Commission will present a proposal for law enforcement access to the Visa Information System (VIS) by November 2005. The Commission will also bring forward a Communication on enhanced effectiveness, interoperability and synergies between European databases in the area of Justice and Home Affairs.
The Council should explore the possibility for amending the Commission’s proposals concerning SIS II to allow for wider law enforcement access to more of the data SIS II will contain. The approach would mirror the Commission's forthcoming proposal to give law enforcement authorities access to the VIS.
The possibility of law enforcement access to EURODAC should be examined in the context of the Commission's Communication on enhanced interaction between VIS, SIS II and EURODAC.
Entry and exit registration programme
The Council calls on the Commission to do a feasibility study on the implementation of a system that would register the biometrics of all third-country nationals as they enter and depart the Schengen travel area.
Schengen States have entry and exit controls (new / consolidating legislation on these will be adopted shortly in the form of the Schengen Borders Code) and are working on various databases (including SIS and VIS). But they currently have no way of matching up information about those leaving with those who entered and thus have no information on the numbers of those remaining illegally in the Schengen area.
There would be benefit in recording this kind of information. Such a system would need to be practical and not result in excessive delays at the borders. Technical details and data protection issues would need to be explored, including whether the data stored should include biometrics and whether existing databases could be used.
It is therefore proposed that the European Commission be invited to undertake a feasibility study. The study will need to balance the proportionality and practicality of additional checks at the borders against the potential advantages of recording and using the resulting information. The feasibility study should incorporate the suggestion to look into plans to introduce biometrics-supported exit controls at Schengen borders. The deadline for completion for this study would be December 2006.