15th Oct 2019

EU okays surveillance cameras at Slovene-Italian border

A proposal by the mayor of an Italian town bordering Slovenia to put cameras on the frontier between the two countries does not breach rules covering the EU's borderless zone, the European Commission said on Wednesday (20 February).

Ettore Romoli, the mayor of Gorizia – a small town at the foot of the Alps in northeastern Italy and on the border with Slovenia - recently suggested putting cameras on the frontier between the two countries, arguing that this would improve the fight against crime.

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But the proposal has raised hackles in Slovenia.

Mirko Brulc, the mayor of Slovenian town Nova Gorica on the other side of the border, opposes the move, saying it would breach the fundamental principles of the EU's borderless zone.

"We cannot support that idea. If we do that, then – at least symbolically – we have police at the border again. Nowhere in Europe can one witness something like this. The proposal is most probably in breach of the Schengen [passport-free zone] acquis," Mr Brulc told Slovenian news agency STA on Tuesday (19 February).

"The cameras are only an excuse to control who travels across the border," he added.

Border controls between the two countries have only just been removed, with Slovenia together with Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, joining the Schengen area on 21 December 2007.

Land and sea border checks between them and the 15 countries already part of the zone were abolished on this date. Air borders are set to follow on 30 March this year.

EU justice affairs commissioner Franco Frattini who at the time said that "an area of 24 countries without internal borders is a unique and historical achievement," is aware of Mr Romoli's proposal, his spokesperson told reporters on Wednesday.

Commissioner Frattini would like to see criminality fall, so if this is the objective of this measure and if it does not aim to "reinstall structural checks" at the border, then it does not breach Schengen rules, he explained.

In addition, there is strict EU regulation on data protection defining who could access the images taken by the cameras and for what reasons, he said.

The spokesperson said that if the aim is to reinstall border check then it would breach EU rules in this area.

But "so far, there is no indication that this is the case", he underlined.

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