World Security Report News2015-03-31 07:30:07

Smart Borders: Civil Liberties MEPs question Commission and Council on pressing issues

MEPs want to know whether Commission and Council consider the proposed Entry/Exit System and Registered Traveller Programme "appropriate and/or adequate responses" to the situation at the EU's external borders given the constant increase of the number of border crossings. In questions addressed to both institutions approved on Tuesday, MEPs also ask their positions on the access for law enforcement purposes and on how far the ruling of the EU Court of Justice on data retention may impact the proposals as they stand.

The proposals on an Entry/Exit System (EES) and a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) are part of the Smart Borders Package presented by the Commission in 2013 to improve the management of the external borders of the Schengen area, fight against irregular immigration and provide information on over-stayers, as well as facilitate border crossings for pre-vetted frequent third country national travellers.

The planned EES would record the time and place of entry and exit of third-country nationals crossing the external borders, calculate the duration of their stay as well as generate an alert when authorised periods for stay have expired, while the RTP would allow certain groups of frequent travellers (i.e. business travellers, family members etc.) from third countries to enter the EU, subject to appropriate pre-screening, using simplified border checks including at automated gates.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has announced on 3 December last year that the 2013 proposals would be withdrawn and replaced by new ones at the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.

The Civil Liberties Committee rapporteurs on the Smart Borders Package are Agustín Díaz de Mera (EPP, ES), for the EES, and Tanja Fajon (S&D, SL), for the RTP.

The Commission and the Council are expected to answer these questions in a debate foreseen for the 27-30 April plenary session, in Strasbourg.

Question for oral answer to the Commission

• Does the Commission intend to present a single legislative proposal which would be complemented by a modification of the Schengen Borders Code to take account of the system(s) at the border or would it present two separate proposals which would as well be complemented by a modification of the Schengen Borders Code?
• When does the Commission intend to present the announced revised proposals? Will they be accompanied by a new impact assessment?
• Does the Commission consider the envisaged entry/exit system and registered traveller programme to be appropriate and/or adequate responses to the current and future situation at the EU's external border given the constant increase of the number of border crossings and if so why?
• Does the Commission consider the envisaged entry/exit system to be an appropriate instrument for reducing the number of so-called overstayers and if so why?
• What are the Commission's views as regards the access for law enforcement purposes?
• What are the Commission's views as to their intended purposes?
• Could the Commission outline its main ideas for the revised proposals it intends to propose, including as regards the architecture, biometric identifiers, and data retention periods?
• To which extent the ruling of the European Court of Justice on the Data Retention may impact the proposals as they stand?
• What is the Commission's view regarding upgrading the existing tools to achieve the intended objectives of the entry/exit system and the registered traveller programme and regarding interoperability and compatibility of various IT systems that already exist with regard to the Smart Borders package?
Question for oral answer to the Council

• Does the Council consider the envisaged entry/exit system and registered traveller programme to be appropriate and/or adequate responses to the current and future situation at the UE external border given the constant increase of the number of border crossings and if so why?
• Does the Council consider the envisaged entry/exit system to be an appropriate instrument for reducing the number of so-called overstayers and if so why?
• What are the Council's views as regards the access for law enforcement purposes?
• What are the Council's views as to their intended purposes?
• Could the Council outline its reflections for the systems including as regards the architecture, biometric identifiers, and data retention periods?
• To which extent the ruling of the European Court of Justice on the Data Retention may impact the proposals as they stand?
• What is the Council's view regarding upgrading the existing tools to achieve the intended objectives of the entry/exit system and the registered traveller programme and regarding interoperability and compatibility of various IT systems that already exist with regard to the Smart Borders package?
• What is the Council's view on the costs of the Smart Borders package, in particular the costs that are not (fully) covered by the Internal Security Fund?
Smart Borders Pilot testing-phase


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