PN120204F

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:

Lord Avebury

Earl of Caithness

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Dubs

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

Baroness Harris of Richmond  (Chairman)

Earl of Listowel

Viscount Ullswater

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:

Tony Rawsthorne

Clerk to the Committee, on 020 7219 6612 ( [email protected])

Requests for reports or interviews with Baroness Harris of Richmond from:

Jillian Bailey

Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659

[ENDS]