EU and US hold high-level talks on biometric security & border control

Posted on May 19th, 2005

Today, 19th May 2005, the third EU-US meeting of the Policy Dialogue on Border and Transport Security will take place in Brussels. Biometric travel documents, document security, visa policy, passenger name records (PNR), transport and customs are among the issues for discussion, together with preparation of the EU-US Summit to be held in Washington on 20 June.

These are matters with direct impact on the lives of European and US citizens and businesses: the tourist who wants to know whether she will need a visa for her holiday travel and why her new passport looks different and costs a little more; the shipping company seeking to implement complex and challenging container security measures; the airline faced with new requirements to screen passengers against no-fly lists. All of them want to be sure that European and US authorities are working together with the common objective of maintaining the highest possible level of security whilst at the same time facilitating the free flow of legitimate travellers and goods.

The meeting is another example of the importance of EU-US cooperation on justice, freedom and security issues. The dialogue had already proved very useful in establishing close links between the European Commission and the US Department of Homeland Security, the vast and complex entity created by President Bush in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 to co-ordinate the US Government’s efforts to secure the US and its interests against terrorist attack.

The EU will be represented by senior officials from the European Commission, including Director General for Freedom, Security and Justice, Jonathan Faull and the Director General for Taxation and Customs Union, Robert Verrue , the Luxembourg Council Presidency and Gijs de Vries, EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator. The U.S. delegation will be led by Acting Undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Randy Beardsworth, accompanied by senior officials from the Departments of State and Justice. The new Homeland Security Secretary, Mr Michael Chertoff, will hold talks with Commission Vice-President Frattini and Commissioner Kovács in Brussels late in May.

Jonathan Faull, Director General in the Commission said: “Security measures in Europe usually have an impact on the USA and vice versa. Therefore it is vitally important that we work closely together to make sure that each side of the Atlantic knows what the other is thinking, doing and planning. There must be no security gap between Europe and America.”