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Commission’s ‘smart borders’ scheme breaches human rights and citizens’ privacy

GUE/NGL MEPs have criticised the Commission's 'smart borders' proposal passed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) yesterday on the grounds that it would lead to unreasonable treatment of vulnerable migrants and breach all travellers' human rights.

The Entry-Exit System (EES) – or so-called ‘smart borders’ – is aimed to better control EU borders and fight against crime and terrorism, and was passed by 38 votes in favour, seven against and one abstention in the LIBE committee on Monday.

The proposals had been criticised for using border control as a pretext to not only link migration with terrorism for third-country nationals, but also as an instrument to return or expel migrants detected as irregular.

Further, all biometric and alphanumeric data recorded in the EES would be accessible to member states’ law enforcement authorities and Europol, and would be kept on record for two to four years, according to the text adopted in LIBE. This is in breach of citizen privacy and even children’s rights as the plans cover all travellers aged over 12 years, thus setting a dangerous precedent.

Speaking after the vote, GUE/NGL Shadow Rapporteur Marie-Christine Vergiat commented:

“This text poses a danger to the human rights of thousands of men, women and children and would result in a presumption of irregularity, including for vulnerable individuals if they fail to fulfil the necessary administrative obligations.”

“It is a complicated issue whose scope is still far from being clear and easily understood.”