EU to fingerprint foreigners to beef up borders

The European Commission unveiled on Wednesday a plan to fingerprint all foreigners visiting 24 European countries.

The electronic register, similar to a policy adopted by the United States after the September 11 2001 attacks could go into effect by 2015 if governments and European lawmakers agree, the European Union executive said.

The scheme is among commission proposals to fight terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration. Travellers can now cross national borders between 24 member states in the enlarged border-free “Schengen” zone without checks.

EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the focus would be on better use of modern technology “to facilitate travelling of honest people, while preventing terrorists, criminals, illegal migrants from entering the EU”.

“We cannot have mafia, or traffickers, or terrorists, using better technology than our police,” he told a news conference.

The entry/exit electronic register, which has sparked privacy concerns, could be complemented by a form air travellers would fill in on the internet before flying to the bloc.

The extra security measures could be compensated by accelerated, automated check-in procedures for registered travellers considered safe enough by consular authorities.

All EU states except Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria are part of the borderless area, to which non-EU members Norway and Iceland also belong.—Reuters


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