Europe Gets Tough on Border Control

     (CN) — The United States is not the only country concerned about border security. The European Union Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on Tuesday approved a plan to check all EU citizens entering or leaving the EU, strengthening border controls against terrorism.
     “The recent terrorist attacks bitterly demonstrate the current threat to Europe’s internal security and proves that changes are needed,” said Monica Macovei, a member of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee from Romania. “It is also worth giving up some of our comforts and time, even if this means longer queues at the borders, in order to save lives.”
     Macovei wrote the legislation, which other members amended to provide exceptions for targeted security checks to prevent prolonged delays in the event that security is not at risk.
     While the legislation is aimed at combating and helping prevent domestic terrorist attacks, legislators say an ancillary benefit will be stemming the tide of “foreign fighters” into the Middle East.
     On Tuesday, Radio Free Europe presented a study that showed Belgium and Sweden had the highest number of foreign fighters per capita fighting in Syria and Iraq.
     The legislation passed out of committee by vote of 48 to 6.
     The plan will check all EU citizens and their family members with third-country nationalities and cross-check them against EU-wide and national security databases that list lost or stolen travel documents.
     “It would make it easier to apprehend travelers trying to hide their real identities,” the commission said in a statement Wednesday.
     The Schengen Borders Code essentially bans border checks between 26 signatories, which include most of the European Union except Great Britain.
     The committee acknowledged that more border checks will slow down travel, but said targeted checks and technology should reduce delays.
     “Better data management, technological progress and improved connections between member states’ information systems should nevertheless ensure that the checks have a limited effect on the duration of borders crossings,” the committee said in the statement.
     The changes come during a virtually unprecedented human migration, with more than 1 million refugees, mostly from war-torn Syria, entering or trying to enter Europe.
     There were 1.3 million asylum claims in Europe during 2015, according to the BBC, with a large share of the refugees resettled in Germany. Of those, about 290,000 asylum applications were approved by the EU.
     While Germany has taken the largest number of refugees, with more than 476,000, Hungary has the largest number per capita.
     The European Parliament has begun negotiations with the EU Council to reach a first reading agreement, a necessary step in making the proposal law.

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