The EU's external borders and migrants' lives will be better protected thanks to the new "Eurosur" border surveillance system, details of which were agreed by Parliament and Council on Wednesday evening.
"To reassure free movement in the EU, we need to strengthen our outside borders. Eurosur can help to improve trust between member states by sharing information and reinforcing cooperation", said Parliament's rapporteur Jan Mulder (ALDE, NL).
Protecting lives, not just borders
Eurosur is a communication system designed to protect the EU's external borders by detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime. On the insistence of MEPs, it must also be used to help save migrants' lives when they are in danger.
Human rights and personal data
When using Eurosur, EU countries must respect human rights, including the "non-refoulement" principle, which prohibits returning people to a place where their life or freedoms could be threatened, the EP-Council deal says.
Full compliance with EU fundamental rights standards, including personal data protection, is also vital. Under the agreed text, any exchange of personal data between member states and with third countries via Eurosur should remain an exception and respect data protection laws.
Eurosur aims to improve the management of the EU's external borders by stepping up information exchange among EU member states and with the EU border management agency Frontex. This would include sharing real-time data and intelligence from various authorities and surveillance tools, such as satellites or ship reporting systems via a protected communication network.
The new rules will apply to the surveillance of the EU's land and sea external borders. One of the key novelties of Eurosur is that it clarifies the action member states must take when responding to situations at their borders.
The agreed text will have to be endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on 10 June and later by the full Parliament. Eurosur will start working on 2 December 2013 in all member states with external borders. In the rest of the EU countries it will start operating as from 1 December 2014.
Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), 1st reading agreement