Friday

8th Dec 2023

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

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

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.

Orban's sovereignty bill seen as fresh attack on rule of law

Hungary's new sovereignty law has been criticised by the opposition as 'another dark milestone' for the country's democratic values and the rule of law — and it could bring yet another clash between Budapest and Brussels.

Analysis

How Wilders' Dutch extremism goes way beyond Islamophobia

Without losing sight of his pervasive Islamophobia, it is essential to note Geert Wilders' far-right extremism extends to other issues that could drastically alter the nature of Dutch politics — and end its often constructive role in advancing EU policies.

Latest News

  1. EU suggests visa-bans on Israeli settlers, following US example
  2. EU ministers prepare for all-night fiscal debate
  3. Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief
  4. Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?
  5. Crunch talks seek breakthrough on EU asylum overhaul
  6. Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies
  7. 'Green' banks lend most to polluters, reveals ECB
  8. Tense EU-China summit showdown unlikely to bear fruit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us