New biometric controls being trialed at Gibraltar border
Spanish authorities are trialing new biometric border controls at the crossing point to Gibraltar as part of contingency-planning in the case of the UK and EU failing to negotiate a free movement treaty for the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, reports The Gibraltar Chronicle.
The equipment has been installed as part of a refurbishment of border infrastructure which includes automated equipment to scan faces, passports and fingerprint biometrics at every control gate. Primarily for pedestrians, an additional tablet device is being trialed for scanning the faces and passports of people crossing the border by car.
In 2015, Vision-Box, in collaboration with Accenture, installed a biometric-enabled automated border solution to enable the authorities to monitor traveler clearance at the border. This was part of a larger program to improve security at Spanish Borders through Automated Border Control systems.
The Chronicle reports that Spain’s Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for the border controls, has not commented on the trial which focus on people leaving Spain, but that commuters have reported getting caught in queues when the biometrics are being trialed.
The current negotiation situation facing the Gibraltar-Spain border is complex. The UK, Gibraltar and Spain all want a treaty that guarantees free movement. Gibraltar could be included in the Schengen area. The parties have until the end of October to reach an agreement, yet no date has been given for when talks will begin.
The Chronicle cites sources which say the current trials are a test for the Gibraltar-Spain border being external to Schengen and that biometrics would become the norm from 2022 if there is no agreement.
The Week provides a useful summary of reporting on the situation by British media.