Frontex sees mobile biometric identification as a solution to EU border checks: Report
Technologies such as mobile biometric identification and vehicle tracking could be the European Union’s alternative to reintroducing internal border controls, according to a new report published by the European border agency Frontex this week.
The report presented recommendations delivered during the Conference on Innovative Technologies for Strengthening the Schengen Area, which took place in Warsaw, Poland in March. The conference was co-hosted by the European Commission, Frontex and Europol, bringing together European and national-level law enforcement and border officials with private sector representatives from Idemia, Grant Detection, OptoPrecision, Airbus Defence and more.
The recommendation hopes to solve the EU’s ongoing conundrum in keeping the Schengen Agreement which promises the free flow of both goods and people across internal borders. Since the migrant crisis of 2015, several member states have been re-introducing border checks.
“Innovative solutions, such as mobile biometric identification and vehicle tracking technologies, can improve law enforcement capabilities and reduce the reintroduction of internal border controls to last resort situations,” the report notes.
The report also highlighted the use of more compact and portable devices, which make border checks more mobile and flexible.
Among other key messages is the need for more cooperation with industry. To achieve this, the EU should first develop a “unified and standardized approach towards data collection.” Another task would be to define feasible, legally compliant and socially acceptable procedures for technical solutions that could be shared among member states.
Representatives from several member states also argued for including intra-EU flights into the Advanced Passenger Information (API) Directive, which obliges air carriers to transmit data from passengers arriving from third countries to EU member states before the flight’s take-off in order to combat illegal immigration.
Last month, Frontex published research into biometric technologies which identified the five most promising solutions that could be used by border control agencies in the next 20 years. Frontex is currently helping the EU prepare for its upcoming biometric Entry and Exit System (EES) while inviting border technology makers to submit products for evaluation.
The agency, however, has also come under criticism over the sinking of the Adriana boat with EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly launching an investigation this week into Frontex’s role in the deadly migrant shipwreck. During the first six months of 2023, the agency detected more than 132,000 irregular border crossings at the EU’s external borders.