Saturday

1st Oct 2022

EU ministers call for more border checks

  • Talk of stricter border checks has intensified after the Paris attacks (Photo: state.gov)

EU interior ministers meeting in Riga on Thursday (29 January) have called for more border checks to fight terrorism in the wake of recent attacks in France and Belgium.

The ministers want to change the rules governing the passport-free Schengen area to allow for "systematic checks against databases relevant to the fight against terrorism" when people enter and exit the area. Currently such checks can only be carried out on an ad hoc basis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos noted that changes for faster data exchange within the Schengen system have already been adopted and that checks are currently possible, too.

"We need first of all to strengthen existing instruments. We already have many important tools in place. Now is the moment to enhance them even more," Avramopoulos said.

The EU commission has taken a cautious stance on new measures in the wake of the Paris attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store that left 17 people dead, as well as the foiled terrorist plot in Verviers, Belgium.

But Avramopoulos agreed that member states need to improve their data exchanges. "Europol needs to receive all relevant information in order to track the travel routes of terrorists," he said.

He was also evasive on a call for the establishment of a European passenger name record (PNR) system like the one used in the US - where personal data would be collected and stored for each person who flies in and out of Europe.

The project has been blocked by the European Parliament over data privacy concerns.

"We know that the parliament had issues. I also know that a compromise must be reached, but the topic itself is pressing and we are urging for a conclusion," said German interior minister Thomas de Maziere after the meeting.

Ministers also want to increase cooperation with companies like Facebook, Google or Twitter, which are sometimes used by jihaddists to spread their message.

Again, Avramopoulos said this can only be done on national level and that at EU level the dialogue with these companies has only just started.

As for the European Commission, ministers said it needs to present a revamped security strategy "by mid-April 2015 at the latest" given that more than 3,000 Europeans have joined Islamists fighting in Syria and Iraq and 30 percent of the recruits have returned to Europe.

The ministers also discussed with Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus - six eastern European countries who are part of the Eastern Partnership project - ways to cooperate on judicial matters and law enforcement.

“It is more important than ever to be united, to rely on one another and to discuss mutual support. We are experiencing security crisis in Ukraine, which poses also a threat to EU’s security. Therefore, our close cooperation, sincere dialogue and trust is of utmost important,” said Latvian justice minister Dzintars Rasnacs, who chaired the meeting.

EU adding Bahamas to tax-haven blacklist

The EU is adding Anguilla, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands to its blacklist of tax-havens, in what some have called a "fig-leaf" exercise.

'No decision expected' for EU decision on unanimous decisions

Swedish minister for European affairs Hans Dahlgren told EUobserver no decision can be expected on majority vote next year. Mikuláš Bek, the Czech minister for European affairs, said enlargement and changes to the decision-making are politically interlinked.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  2. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  3. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  4. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  5. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  6. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  7. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  8. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us