Thursday

20th Sep 2018

Border management going virtual

  • "Digital technologies are at the very core of our activities," says EU home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos (Photo: European Union)

Internal security and migration are merging under the guise of border management as the EU seeks to tighten controls on who leaves and enters the bloc.

Krum Garkov, who heads the Tallinn-based EU agency that oversees large-scale IT systems, described the merger as a fundamental shift that will also make border controls virtual.

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

"Border management today is going through a very fundamental transformation," he said earlier this week at a conference organised by Forum Europe in Brussels.

His agency, known as eu-Lisa, is also set for an overhaul, with the European Commission floating a bill next week to beef up its mandate.

Eu-Lisa already manages the Schengen Information System, a border and police database. It also oversees the Visa Information System, as well as the asylum fingerprint database, Eurodac.

All three systems are seen as key in the broader effort to tackle security and get a better grip on migration.

The agency will soon have a handful of other databases under its command as it grows in prominence and importance.

Among them is the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias), which will screen visa-free travellers before they enter the EU.

A separate Entry-Exit system, aimed at detecting people who over-stay their visa, is also under discussion but won't be operational until 2020. Some 14 million Schengen area visas are issued every year.

EU leaders in Brussels at the summit on Thursday (22 June) are expected to endorse both systems, with legislation also underway to make the various EU-level security databases managed by eu-Lisa interoperable.

Estonia's digital touch

The fact that the agency is based in Tallinn is not incidental given Estonia is taking the helm of the EU presidency.

"We see an important role for IT solutions in safe guarding our borders and internal security," said Andres Anvelt, Estonia's interior minister.

Anvelt said the upcoming EU presidency would also aim to expand the European Criminal Records Information System (Ecris) to include non-EU nationals.

He also wants to turn Eurodac into "a full case management system".

Last year, Eurodac processed over 1 million fingerprints of asylum seekers as young as 14.

Now the plan is to start taking fingerprints of children as young as six and to get the police in all EU states to use the database more often.

Only 327 Eurodac queries had been carried out last year by police in Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU's counter-terrorism coordinator, wants to replace the fingerprints with full face scans.

"It is really urgent that we start feeding and searching databases through biometric data, and by biometric data I don't mean fingerprints, but I mean facial images," he had said in May.

The plan now is to create an automated fingerprint identification system to allow police to check people against the Schengen Information System.

The EU is also setting up a European search portal, a shared biometric matching service, and a common identity repository.

But big questions remain unanswered in regard to hacking, fundamental rights and the push towards greater security at the expense of civil liberties.

Michael O'Flaherty, who heads the Fundamental Rights Agency, said the plans raise a number of serious issues on privacy rights and protection of personal data.

He also said the systems would become targets for hackers, foreign governments, and political opponents.

"It also increases the chances that such data is unlawfully shared with third countries," he said.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

News in Brief

  1. EU-Arab League summit proposed for February in Egypt
  2. Stop 'migration blame-game', Tusk tells EU leaders
  3. McDonald's Luxembourg tax deal 'compatible' with EU rules
  4. Danish bank CEO resigns in Russia scandal
  5. Germany seeks to join EU's eastern energy club
  6. UK universities top EU in Chinese ranking
  7. Poland seeks 'Fort Trump' US military base
  8. EU stops Irish case after Apple pays €13bn

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  4. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  5. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  8. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  10. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us