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`EU member state cannot seek details other than on passport’

MPs call for halting e-border project

18th December 2009: The MPs have asked for putting on hold for the time being the £1.2bn Home Office e-borders project aimed at tracking the movement of passengers in Britain.

The computerised system for monitoring all passengers arriving in Britain may breach European Union rules, the MPs apprehend.

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.

Airlines in Europe have boycotted the e-borders programme in absence of legal clarity. The borders and immigration minister, Phil Woolas, meanwhile, said he was confident e-borders, was fully compliant with EU law.

The Home Affairs Committee asserted the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was imposing expensive requirements on the private transport sector, without ensuring all the components of the e-borders programme were lawful.

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