Saturday

15th Aug 2020

Netherlands defends border control project

  • Dutch police (Photo: copsadmirer@yahoo.es)

The Dutch interior ministry has said new cameras for screening people who enter the country by car will not violate EU laws on free movement or privacy.

In what looks like a fresh attack on the Schengen passport-free travel agreement, the pilot scheme - entitled "@migo-Boras" - is to see €19 million worth of cameras installed on 15 major highways from Belgium and Germany and in some police cars between February and April.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

If they spot a number plate which is red-flagged in the police database, officers will intercept the vehicle in a bid to stop illegal immigrants and criminals.

The cameras will operate in a zone up to 20km from the border and will initially look at small samples of cars and trucks for a maximum of six hours a day or 90 hours a month.

Dutch interior minister Gerd Leers said in a written statement in December the system "falls within the existing rules for border control and privacy."

He added: "The cameras will not constitute a permanent border. They only support the work of the Royal Military Police ... Since limitations [on travel] have been lifted in the European Schengen area, the surveillance system does not have the character of the former border."

The scheme has attracted criticism in German media.

Frank Richter, the head of the German police union, the GdP, told the German press agency the system puts "all travellers under general suspicion." Socialist politician Angelica Schwall-Duren said she has asked The Hague for clarification on how the number plate data will be stored.

For his part, Leers added that the European Commission has also quietly made enquiries and that he will file a report to Brussels.

The Dutch move comes after Denmark recently imposed and then lifted similar border checks.

The Netherlands in December also vetoed letting Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen area despite the fact they met technical requirements. Polish interior minister Jerzy Miller at the time commented: "Mutual trust means keeping promises as well. Today that promise has been broken ... We live in difficult times for the EU."

Denmark and the Netherlands have influential far-right parties on their political scenes. But the anti-Schengen trend is bigger than the two northern neighbours.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a 'state-of-the-union' speech in December also said "Europe, which has to apply internally the principle of free movement but which does not control its external frontiers - that can't go on. Schengen must be reconsidered."

The statement alarmed Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt who tweeted that Sarkozy is trying to win right-wing votes at the cost of EU values. "Election campaigns are what they are, but we must not endangered the gains we have made in creating a more open Europe," he said.

Dutch tulips blocked at Romanian border in Schengen dispute

Romanian authorities blocked Dutch flower imports over the weekend, one day after the Netherlands government announced it would veto Romania and Bulgaria's entry to the border-free Schengen area. Sofia, meanwhile, has threatened to withdraw its support for Schengen reform laws if it's not admitted into the zone.

Brussels defends Dutch border control project

Dutch use of military-grade camera equipment to check who is going in and out of the country is in line with EU law, the commission has said, shocking some MEPs.

News in Brief

  1. Most EU states oppose US sanctions on Russia pipeline
  2. UK imposes quarantine on France, Netherlands, Malta
  3. At least 3.5m EU nationals to stay in UK
  4. UK urged to 'calm down' on migrants
  5. Pompeo starts EU tour with anti-Chinese 5G deal
  6. Dutch lawsuit seeks billions from tech firms
  7. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  8. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says

EUobserver under attack in wider battle for EU free press

If EU citizens want to know the truth, then journalists need protection from malicious litigation, as EUobserver joined the list of targets, over an article about the late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us