A Spanish Proposal

07.03.2003

European Union wants it's own access to passengers' information

Last weeks there was a lot of rumour on the demands of the American authorities to have direct access to information on passengers who are flying to the United States. But now the European Union is launching it's own initiative, according to a Spanish proposal.

Spain has tabled a proposal to amend the Schengen Agreement. Spain aims at a 'model of external borders global management.' According to the proposal, carriers should gather 'certain data' and travel documents from the passengers and convoy this information immediately to the border control authorities in the European country of destination. This would ensure that 'a period of time is available to perform a detailed analysis, on the basis of each specific situation, or of each passenger's country of departure'.

Spain thinks this measures would help in combating illegal immigration and terrorism. 'This would allow, in exceptional or necessary cases, the preparation and adoption of measures considered most appropriate to fight against terrorism and illegal immigration,' the Spanish note states. In other words: if the databases of the European Union alarms the border control authorities that some passengers on a flight are under the suspicion of wanting to stay illegal in the European Union, or are suspected of terrorism, the border guards can get on time in position to halt the passengers from entering the country.

The Spanish proposal goes even further: Spain also wants an obligation for the carriers to send information to the authorities regarding third country nationals they may have transported to the European Union and who have not returned to their country on the date indicated on their return ticket. Or, in other situations, passengers who have not continued their travel towards another third State. This information would according to Spain give the European Member States the opportunity to analyse the 'real and concrete situation' regarding certain routes of transport or third countries that present 'problems of illegal immigration or security'.

Spain sums up the advantages of this system: the information would permit to know immediately and with certainty the evolution of the migratory flows; to make an approximate quantification of people which remain illegally in the European Union and to proceed to their localisation and expulsion; to provide arguments for the immediate adoption of measures considered more appropriate regarding a route of transport or a certain country; and also contribute to the localisation of the people involved in 'the preparation or performance of criminal activities'.

Spain first wants to hear the opinions of the other Member States on this initiative. If the other Member States agree with the proposal, Spain will table an official legislative initiative on this subject.

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