Thursday

21st Feb 2019

ID and police checks await all who enter and leave the EU

  • The EU wants to ID check every person crossing the external borders (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Everyone, including EU nationals, will have their IDs checked against police databases under new draft rules every time they enter or exit the EU.

Backed by MEP negotiators and their EU state counterparts on Monday (5 December), the move is the latest in a series of security measures aimed at catching people who fought alongside the Islamic State militant group.

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

But the plan, which amends the Schengen Borders Code, is also designed to provide the police much greater insight into people suspected of other crimes.

People's IDs will be crossed checked against an EU-level police and border database, the so-called Schengen Information System (SIS), which is riddled with management problems.

The issues are so bad that the European commission plans on unveiling new rules before the end of year to make SIS more effective.

The database currently only allows name and date of birth search queries, providing little protection against the use of fake documents. The EU commission wants to plug the gap by allowing authorities to search the database using biometric information, like fingerprints.

Once the biometric search is developed, the system will further link up to the EU police agency, Europol, and is likely to include a new set of alerts on "wanted unknown persons", where police have evidence of criminal activity but are unable to identify the person behind the offence.

Every EU national will be subject to the digital scrutiny.

The new rules are set to launch next year but still need to be formally adopted by the EU institutions. No date has been announced.

Foreign fighters

Millions of people cross into the EU's passport free Schengen area every week. Last year, authorities registered over 200 million.

Of those, 5,000 EU nationals are thought to have left to fight with militants in either Iraq or Syria.

Half of these are unaccounted for - either missing or dead. The others have returned to Europe, either to resume normal lives or face criminal penalties.

Concerns are mounting that defeated militants in the campaign in Iraq may return to mount attacks in the EU. An Iraqi-led offensive against the Islamic State, with US air and ground support, kicked off in early October.

But Julian King, the EU commissioner for security, told reporters in mid-November not to exaggerate the threat.

"I know there has been some concern and speculation in light of the evolution on the ground in Iraq and in Syria," he said.

"There has been some speculation that we might face an influx of returning foreign fighters, I think that speculation is sometimes exaggerated. I want to be clear, it is not a new threat."

More jihadi attacks likely in Europe, Europol says

The European joint police agency said that the group had shifted focus to so-called soft targets, because indiscriminate attacks on ordinary people have shown most successful in terrorising public opinion.

EU starts border checks on everyone

Border authorities will be required to verify the identities of EU nationals whenever leaving or entering the European Union.

Investigation

UK unlawfully copying data from EU police system

The British government is abusing EU travel security systems, making and using illegal copies of outdated information, and putting innocent people at risk of being red-flagged.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  2. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  3. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  4. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  5. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  6. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  7. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  8. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us