Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

US travellers set for EU biometric dragnet

  • The pilot project wants to measure 'criteria, notably accuracy, effectiveness and impact on the border crossing' (Photo: angeloangelo)

US citizens and other non-EU nationals who enter Europe will be asked to have their faces image-captured and fingerprints scanned upon arrival at a half-dozen major airports.

The biometric dragnet is part of a pilot test of the EU’s so-called ‘smart borders’ package. Passengers can refuse to give the data for now but there are plans to eventually make it obligatory.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A draft internal EU document dated Wednesday (18 February) and seen by this website says the “proof of concept” is set to start in March and will run until September this year.

“Should traveller participation be lower than expected, there would be a high risk that the results of the tests would be biased or would not reflect reality,” notes the multi-million euro project.

Although the launch date is set in a matter of weeks, the document is still in the draft stage and so test places may change.

However, the document lists Arlanda (Sweden), Charles de Gaulle (France), Frankfurt (Germany), Lisbon (Portugal), Madrid (Spain), and Schiphol (Netherlands) as participating airports.

Frankfurt and Schiphol will ask between four to ten fingerprint sets. Madrid will ask for four and Charles de Gaulle eight.

Arlanda, Charles de Gaulle, and Madrid airports are also set to start requesting facial image-captures from disembarking passengers.

The airport in Lisbon is ticked to perform iris pattern scans but the paper notes that “iris pattern of volunteering TCNs [third country nationals] should be captured live, at the same time as the facial image.”

The biometric screening extends to road, train, and sea routes as well and includes iris pattern scans in some areas.

Iris scans are set to be asked on roads leading into border towns Udvar in Hungary and Sculeni in Romania. Drivers should also expect live face scans in Sculeni.

Other border towns will ask for fingerprints. These include roads leading into Kipoi Evrou in Greece and Vaalimaa in Finland.

At the land borders “the traveller will walk up to the border guard or be one of the first persons to be called by the border guard.”

Participating cars and buses will be pulled aside in a waiting area for the experiment.

Border guards will also be performing fingerprint scans on moving trains from Paris (Gare du Nord) and Lasi (Romania). Travellers at the Lasi station may also be asked for facial image captures.

Seaports and moving vessels in Helsinki (Finland), Port of Piraeus (Greece), Cherbourg (France), and Genova (Italy) are also set to participate.

Medium risk on data protection

The paper says there is a “medium” risk that participating member states won’t comply with data protection rules.

It notes biometric data will need to be depersonalised, saved locally, and then deleted after analysis. Retention periods should be limited to “produce the relevant statistics and analysis.”

eu-LISA, a EU agency tasked to manage large-scale information systems used by border guards and law enforcement, is running the pilot.

It will issue the European commission a mid-term report by 15 July with a final report expected in November.

Smart borders

The commission proposed the package in 2013 but later withdrew it and is set to announce a revised version once the pilot is completed.

The package includes the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the Registered Travellers Programme (RTP).

Both rely on the collection, storage, and processing of biometric data to enhance border control checks on any non-EU national entering the EU.

EES is meant to identify and prevent people from overstaying their visas.

Visa and non-visa holders can also get a special token under the RTP system before travelling. RTP is intended to make it easier for people like business travelers to enter and leave border gates with ease.

Any legislation would have to be approved by member states and MEPs, with some deputies strongly opposed to the idea of biometric checks and law enforcement access.

EU Commission skirts Italy sanctions on Roma evictions

The European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, declines to sanction Italy's treatment of the Roma following a forced eviction on Thursday of some 300 from a camp in the outskirts of the Italian capital.

News in Brief

  1. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  2. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'
  3. EU values not negotiable, German FM tells Poland
  4. Audit warns 840 French bridges at risk of collapse
  5. Fashion king pours money into campaign for second Brexit vote
  6. Germany could aid Turkey, SPD leader hints
  7. UK government set to publish no-deal Brexit advice
  8. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants

Opinion

The systemic risk that Europe has to face

One of the biggest systemic risks across Europe, illustrated by Hungary and Poland, is the dominance of the executive power over the judiciary and informal channels of political dependency.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  2. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  3. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  4. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  5. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  6. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  7. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  8. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us