The European Union is significantly stepping up the surveillance of its external borders. Three policy proposals are currently on the table: the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), „Smart Borders“ and EU-PNR. They are geared towards curbing irregular migration and terrorist threats by turning the Mediterranean Sea into a zone of heavy surveillance, by establishing one of the biggest fingerprint databases in the world and by increasing the surveillance of all passengers crossing EU external borders.
The Green conference „An Emerging e-Fortress Europe? Border Surveillance, Frontex and Migration Control“ aims at addressing these EU's border surveillance poposals from a migration perspective as well as from a data protection angle. It will focus on the impact of the initatives on the rights refugees and the way the EU is preparing to respond to irregular migration and it will shed light on the impact of the envisaged surveillance measures on the right to privacy.
As core contribution to the conference, Ben Hayes from Statewatch and Mathias Vermeulen from the European University Institute will present the findings of their study „Borderline – The EU's Border Surveillance Initatives“. The study was initiated by the Green MEP Ska Keller and financed by the German Heinrich Boell Foundation.
The conference focuses in particular on the following three porposals for EU border surveillance and control:
The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) aims at setting up a system for data and information exchange among EU border agencies, FRONTEX and third countries. Additionally, Frontex will be responsible for the surveillance of the Mediterranean Sea and the coasts of Northern African countries by satelites, drones and other enhanced surveillance tools.
„Smart Borders“ involve the setting-up of a huge biometric database. Every third country national will be required to register with fingerprints when entering and leaving the EU.
The idea behind EU-PNR is to store passenger name records (PNR) of all airline passengers crossing the EU external borders, including EU citizens. The data will be centrally stored with state authorities and subject to electronic investigation.
Panel I: General Trends
Chair: Ska Keller, MEP Greens/EFA, Introduction
Henrik Nielsen, European Commission: The Commission's Approach to Migration Control
BenHayes, Statewatch: Border Surveillance as Big Business – Presentation of the Study "Borderline"
Panel II: Eurosur and the Externalisation of EU-Borders
Chair: Hélène Flautre, MEP Greens/EFA
Erik Berglund, Frontex: European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR): Objectives and State of Play
Pierre Barge, AEDH: The Impact of EUROSUR on Human Rights
Madline Garlick, UNHCR: Can EUROSUR Help Saving Lives at Sea?
Jan Mulder MEP ALDE: Response by the EP-Rapporteur on EUROSUR
Panel III: "Smart Borders", EU-PNR and Travellers' Surveillance
Chair: Jan Philipp Albrecht, MEP Greens/EFA
Filip Jasinski, Polish Permanent Representation: “Smart Borders”: Objectives and State of Play
Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor: Data Protection Issues
Mathias Vermeulen, European University Institute: Why "Smart Borders" Won't Work
Rui Tavares, MEP Greens/EFA, Ska Keller, MEP Greens/EFA