Experts from across Europe gathered at a conference in Brussels to consider the European Commission's plan to introduce a so-called Smart Borders Package. The 1.1-billion euro plan proposes to use the latest technology to gather and retain personal information of people crossing E-U borders.
700 million people move in and out of the European Union each year. Under the new measures, some 100 million people annually will have prints taken from each of their ten fingers on entry or exit. E-U authorities say state-of-the-art technology will speed up border crossings and improve security. The exact location and time of entry and exit will be recorded and stored as well. Recent revelations regarding the mass surveillance of citizens by the U-S and the U-K have brought this debate into sharp focus.
The European Commission says the new border system would greatly improve immigration controls but human rights activists say any migrants who might be detained would have to be treated fairly.
The European Commission officials were invited to the Centre for European Policy Studies conference to defend its position. But that invitation was declined.
As the E-U authorities push ahead with their new border controls agenda the debate over security challenges and human rights concerns is set to continue.