In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, interior ministers from EU member states decided today in Brussels to impose stricter and systematic controls at the external borders of the Schengen area also for the citizens of the European Union. The decision seems to be justified with the allegation the organizer of the Paris attacks, Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud was able to travel from Syria to Belgium and other EU countries. The EU minister want also to implement before the end of 2015 also “a data exchange system on EU air passengers (PNR). The ministers demand that the Passengers Name Record system “include[s] internal flights in its scope”, reports EUobserver noting that this has been resisted so far by the EU Parliament. Ministers also demand that passengers’ records can be consulted for “a sufficiently long data period.” France wanted a one-year period.
For the EU citizens controls the Schengen Borders Code needs to be revised
Below an excerpt from the EU Ministers’ conclusions:
Strengthening controls of external borders
4. Member States undertake to:
a) implement immediately the necessary systematic and coordinated checks at external borders, including on individuals enjoying the right of free movement,
b) on the basis of a quick identification of urgent needs and possible solutions to be communicated by the Commission before the end of 2015, upgrade the Schengen Member States’ border control systems (electronic connection to the relevant Interpol databases at all external border crossing points, automatic screening of travel documents) by March 2016,
c) in the context of the current migration crisis, carry out a systematic registration, including fingerprinting, of third country nationals illegally entering the Schengen area, whether migrants or applicants for international protection, and perform systematic security checks by using relevant databases, in particular SIS II, Interpol databases, VIS and national police databases, with the support of Frontex and Europol, and ensure that hotspots are equipped with the relevant technology. Europol will deploy guest officers to the hotspots in support of the screening process, in particular by reinforcing secondary security controls,
d) strengthen the control at the external borders which are most exposed, in particular by deploying, when the situation so requires, rapid border intervention teams (RABITs) and police officers in order to ensure systematic screening and security checks.
5. The Council reiterates its Conclusions of 9 November 2015 and invites the Commission:
a) as it updates its proposals on Smart Borders, to present a proposal for a targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code to provide for systematic controls of EU nationals, including the verification of biometric information, against relevant databases at external borders of the Schengen area, making full use of technical solutions in order not to hamper the fluidity of movement,
b) to provide, in its proposal to update the Frontex Regulation, a solid legal basis for the contribution of Frontex to the fight against terrorism and organised crime and access to the relevant databases.
6. Frontex will:
a) contribute to the fight against terrorism and support the coordinated implementation of the Common Risk Indicators (CRIs) before the end of 2015,
b) assist the Member States in tightening controls at external borders so that suspicious travel by foreign terrorist fighters and smuggling of firearms can be better detected, in cooperation with Europol,
c) work closely with Europol and Eurojust, in particular in the context of the hotspots, and exchange data with Europol on the basis of the cooperation agreement to exchange personal data. The latter should be concluded without delay so that Frontex and Europol can start exchanging data as of 1 January 2016.
7. The Council decides to step up law enforcement cooperation:
a) Member States will ensure that national authorities enter systematically data on
b) suspected foreign terrorist fighters into the SIS II, in particular under Article 36.3, carry out awareness raising and training on the use of the SIS and define a common approach to the use of the SIS II data relating to foreign fighters,
c) Member States will speed up full implementation and effective use of the Prüm acquis (interconnection and consultation of national databases on DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration),
d) Europol will launch the European Counter Terrorist Centre (ECTC) on 1 January 2016 as a platform by which Member States can increase information sharing and operational cooperation with regard to the monitoring and investigation of foreign terrorist fighters, the trafficking of illegal firearms and terrorist financing. The new Europol Regulation, on which an agreement should be reached between the co-legislators before the end of the year, should be consistent with the mandate and objectives of the ECTC, including the IRU,
e) Member States will second CT experts to the ECTC to form an enhanced cross-border investigation support unit, capable of providing quick and comprehensive support to the investigation of major terrorist incidents in the EU. Eurojust should also participate,
f) The Commission is invited to propose that Europol be reinforced with the necessary resources to support ECTC and to submit a legislative proposal in order to enable Europol to systematically cross-check the Europol databases against the SIS II,
g) The Commission is invited to undertake efforts to achieve interoperability of the relevant databases with regard to security checks, notably SIS II, Interpol’s SLTD and iARMS. In this framework, Member States, with the support of the Commission, are invited to establish Single Points of Contact for the facilitation of the information exchange,
h) Member States will make maximum use of these capabilities to improve the overall level of information exchange between CT authorities in the EU. Member States will ensure that the relevant national authorities significantly increase their contributions to Focal Point Traveller at Europol to reflect the threat and connect to relevant Europol information exchange systems.
On the issue of Financing of Terrorism, the EU Minister concluded that the European Commission should present ”
proposals to strengthen and improve the powers of, and the cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units (FIU’s), notably through the proper embedment of the FIU.net network for information exchange in Europol, and ensure their fast access to necessary information, in order to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in conformity with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations
as 10 whole text lines are without full stop in between I break the text to make it a bit readable
“and to strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments, money remittances, cash-carriers, virtual currencies, transfers of gold or precious metals and pre-paid cards in line with the risk they present and to curb more effectively the illicit trade in cultural goods.”
The EU ministers have to convince the European Parliament to accept these measures.
PS do I read correctly that ‘bitcoins’ are suspicious?
BTW: if the EU wants safe external borders it should assist the countries on these borders with proper tools, skilled personnel and fundning.