‘e-Borders is fully compliant with EU law’: Woolas

The system has enabled the arrest of murders, rapists

21st December 2009:
Soon after the MPs called for putting on hold the £1.2bn Home Office e-borders project, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas MP has claimed the scheme “has been confirmed by the European Commission”.

Responding to a Home Affairs Select Committee report published today, he said: ‘e-Borders is fully compliant with EU law and this has been confirmed by the European Commission.

`This allows us to continue our efforts to secure our border by counting people in and out. e-Borders has already screened over 137 million passenger journeys leading to over 4,700 arrests since 2005.’

`e-Borders is the UK Border Agency’s electronic border control system which allows the checking of passenger and crew before they enter or leave the UK. The system has enabled the arrest of murders, rapists and the barring of would-be illegal immigrants”.

The MPs had earlier expressed apprehension that the computerised system for monitoring all passengers arriving in Britain may breach European Union rules.

They have warned gathering additional information on travellers entering or leaving the country may be illegal, as a European Union member state cannot ask for details other than the ones on a passport or other identity document, except in exceptional circumstances.

The MPs, in a report, elaborate the information on passengers that the project requires to be collect may be illegal under the EU treaty; and the project as such should be put on hold until its legal status is clear under European law.

Chairman Keith Vaz said until this legality is resolved, the UKBA must just halt any further work to go live on intra-EU routes.

He added they could not have another massive IT project which “flounders or is even abandoned at huge cost to the taxpayer, it is simply unacceptable."

The programme is forecast to cost the taxpayer £1.2 billion.

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