EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01
THURSDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2004
IMMIGRATION PROPOSALS UNDER FIRE: LORDS CRITICISE EU PLAN TO COMPEL AIRLINES TO PROVIDE PASSENGER DATA
EU proposals to compel airlines and sea carriers to collect and transmit passenger data to immigration authorities in advance of travel are seriously flawed, according to a Lords Committee report published today.
Baroness Harris of Richmond, who chaired the inquiry, said:
"This is a half-baked idea, which is unlikely to reduce illegal immigration significantly.
"But it would certainly cause massive disruption to millions of passengers travelling into and around the EU and create substantial extra costs for air and sea carriers.
"It is an unnecessary additional burden for a hard-pressed aviation industry. The EU should think again."
The Committee identify the following disadvantages to the proposal:
Its effectiveness as a tool to combat organised crime or national security threats has not been substantiated
The duties it would impose on carriers are disproportionate to the aim of combating illegal immigration
It would cause serious delays and disruption for passengers, with knock-on effects for carriers and airport authorities
It contains no provision for redress for passengers wrongly denied boarding
It would impose substantial costs on carriers, including the construction of a massive new IT infrastructure to support it, but no estimate of costs or regulatory impact assessment has been published
Requiring carriers to notify immigration authorities of the non-use of return tickets is excessive and likely to be ineffective. There are many valid reasons for not using the return half of a ticket.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. The inquiry was undertaken by Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the European Union Committee. The current Members of the Sub-Committee are:
Earl of Caithness
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale
Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen
Baroness Harris of Richmond (Chairman)
Earl of Listowel
Lord Wright of Richmond
2. The report is published by The Stationery Office:
Fighting Illegal Immigration: should carriers carry the burden? House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 5th Report, Session 2003-04, HL Paper 29, ISBN 0 10 4004061, price £12.00. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via
www.parliament.uk shortly after publication.
3. The basis of the Committee's inquiry was a draft Directive put forward by the Spanish Government in March 2003 (the latest text is contained on Council document 5183/04, 9 January 2004).
4. There are two main elements to the proposal:
A requirement on air and sea carriers to transmit data on all their passengers to border control authorities in advance of travel.
A discretion for Member States to require carriers to provide information about the non-use of return tickets.
5. The proposal has similarities with the US requirements recently imposed on flights to the United States, but those requirements were imposed on security grounds. The main aim of this proposal is to assist in combating illegal immigration.
Further information from:
Clerk to the Committee, on 020 7219 6612 (
Requests for reports or interviews with Baroness Harris of Richmond from:
Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659