EU ‘smart border’ plans under fire

 

Concerns over the European Commission’s “smart border package” will be a key topic at today’s European Security Trends and Threats in Society (Ettis) research group event in Dublin.

Estimated to cost about €1.1 billion, and championed by EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström, the system is due to be in place by 2018.

However, today’s event in the European Parliament offices on Molesworth Street will see Mathias Vermeulen from the European University Institute and Ben Hayes of independent civil liberties monitoring group Statewatch challenge the “long-term aims” of “smart borders” and ask whether it is worth such a level of investment, “considering all the other immigration and law enforcement databases that we already have in Europe”.

The subject of European Parliament talks in recent months, the “smart borders” system is aimed at speeding up and reinforcing border-check procedures, recording the time and place of entry and exit for third-country nationals travelling to the EU.

“It’s really got to be questioned whether in the current climate this is really a necessary or effective use of taxpayers’ money,” said Mr Hayes. “Also, it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that this will lead to the monitoring of all movement into and out of the EU, or in the future across the EU as well.”

Ettis, which is funded through the EU’s FP7 research framework programme, is hosting the one-day event, Securing Europe , along with the Centre for Irish and European Security. Other topics on the agenda include “smart city” surveillance issues and the use of drone devices.