Proposed immigration system “illegal” under EU rules

A £1.2 billion system designed to monitor immigration by recording data collected on individuals passing UK borders may contravene EU law, according to the Home Affairs select committee.

In a report publish last week, the committee pointed to EU law that bans member states from asking passengers travelling to or from other EU nations to produce more information than a valid passport, other than in exceptional circumstances.

The system, which is under development by the UK Border Authority (UKBA), may also potentially breach the data protection laws of other nations, such as those in Germany, the report found.

To make matters worse, a breakdown in communication caused IT contractor Trusted Borders to develop technology that was neither compliant with airline industry standards nor compatible with the systems used by the airliners themselves.

Chairman of the select committee Keith Vaz MP said: "This programme is supposed to cover tens of millions of passengers’ intra-EU account for a very significant chunk of travel in and out of the UK. Until this legality is resolved UKBA must just halt any further work to ‘go live’ on intra-EU routes. We cannot have another massive IT project which flounders or is even abandoned at huge cost to the taxpayer, it is simply unacceptable."

The Home Office has offered to reduce the amount of information required by the immigration systems, though some critics have suggested this will render the scheme pointless.

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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