Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 04:35:56 AM EST
Fear not! Berlusconi's former Minister for Foreign Affairs (and Intelligence and Security Services) is looking out for us! Franco Frattini, European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security has proposed wide-ranging new border-checks and surveillance mechanisms:
The proposals for a radical shake-up of the EU's border security were unveiled by Mr Frattini in Brussels.
He said the measures would apply to all 24 members of the Schengen accord, and it was up to countries such as the UK and Ireland whether to join in.
Frattini told reporters the bloc should use "the most advanced technology to reach the highest level of security."
"We Europeans are now obliged to put our fingerprints in our passports," he said. "It's very strange that I don't oblige third (non-EU) country nationals to put their fingerprints either in documents like a visa or another register."
Diary rescue by Migeru
[editor's note, by Migeru] Fold inserted here for the Front Page.
All arrivals to and from the European Union would need to provide fingerprints or other biometric identifiers at their first point of entry into any EU country.
The sweeping measures would replicate many of the border checks being rolled out in the United States, but would go further in [suggesting] that EU citizens also submit fingerprints to participate in computerized fast-track entry-exit customs controls.
Roscam Abbing [Frattini's spokesman] said the collection of biometric information on travelers could be extended to taking digital photographs and iris scans of visitors' eyes and putting the information into a Europe-wide database.
Frattini's plan also calls for the creation of a European border surveillance system that uses high-resolution satellites and low-flying drones to keep an eye on remote areas such as coastlines and mountains.
I find myself wondering whether the risks and benefits of such enormous databases have really been weighted against each other properly. It may only take a light exogeneous shock such as a medium-scale terror attack to provoke a disproportionate response given the new means of surveillance hereby created. The whole proposal certainly has a very futuristic feel to it, and not in a particularly good way.
I also want to use this opportunity to lament the opaque structure of the EU. Who put Frattini into his position as Commissioner? At least the Americans elected their proto-fascists directly. This behind-the-scenes powerbroking in the EU has to end.
There seems to be a very strange dynamic at play whereby national leaders oppose true accountability through direct pan-European elections, because it would lead to a huge surge in legitimacy of the EU and a great loss of power for national governments, who would lose their claim to be the highest elected officials to the populace. At the same time, however, national leaders seem content with a creeping assumption of more and more powers by the EU. A great gap between power and accountability has already opened up.