Expressing deep concerns about the European Commission’s Smart Borders proposals for being neither proportionate, nor suitable to achieve the stated aims, taking into account the costs incurred to implement these systems and the limited degree of efficiency and simplification of procedures it will introduce, as well as raising serious questions as the assurance of data protection, the Meijers Committee is calling on the European Parliament to vote against the proposals.
The legislative package consists of a “Registered Traveller Programme” (RTP) allowing for simplified border checks for individuals frequently travelling from third countries to the EU and an “Entry/Exit System” (EES) aimed at improving the management of EU external borders and the fight against irregular migration, as well as the identification of so-called “overstayers”, i.e. persons who do not have or no longer have the right to be present in the territory of the Member States. The proposals would allow the collection of biometric data of all third-country nationals entering or leaving the Schengen area.
The Meijers Committee, a group of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law, have criticised the proposals for their incoherence with existing EU legislation and databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), and maintain they could lead to irreversible and disproportionate repercussions for individuals whose data had been entered into the system. The experts argued that the storage of personal data as well as the transmission of such data to third countries could lead to interference with individuals’ right to privacy. Furthermore, the Committee also raised concerns about the broad discretion provided to authorities when issuing registered traveller status and the premature reference to possible access to the EES for law enforcement purposes.
The costs of the Smart Borders proposals envisaged by the European Commission are 1.1 billion euro.
In a separate note, the Meijers Committee addressed the Dutch House of Representatives, proposing that it pose certain critical questions to the Dutch government.