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Spain tests new border control system for EU

Spain set up a pilot project on Thursday that will help travellers move faster through border crossing points within the European Union, through the use of an automated identification and document verification system, overseen by police officers.

The Automated Border Control (ABC) System, which can be used by citizens of the EU, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland aged over 18 and who have a biometric passport or electronic national identity document was unveiled by Spain's Minister of the Interior, Alfredo PĂ©rez Rubalcaba, at El Prat Airport in Barcelona.

Spain wants to promote this system throughout Europe as a whole as a priority measure of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union.

Rubalcaba said this automated border control system, which is already being used in a similar way in airports in other European countries such as the United Kingdom, Portugal and France, will be supervised by Spanish National Police officers and would speed up procedures, streamlining their work and making it more effective, as well as ensuring cost savings.

With a large number of travellers being directed to the automated controls, resources could be freed up and focused on areas that require greater vigilance.

Rubalcaba also explained that this system is intended to make "life easier" at airports, where people are already subjected to various security checks, while also representing a further step towards consolidating the concept of "European citizenship".

The system involves the following elements:

  1. Identification modules: with document checkers, electronic national identity card readers, fingerprint readers and cameras. The traveller will carry out the entire identification and verification process following information and prompts on a touch screen.
  2. Access modules: comprise doors that act as a physical barrier and represent the actual crossing of the border once the passenger has successfully passed the identification and verification process.
  3. Assisted control post: operated by the police, enables constant supervision of the processes described above, and can provide immediate reaction to any possible alert. Provides personal assistance for travellers who have had any problems in the automated process and ensures vigilance and smooth-running of the system.

The pilot system has been set up at Barcelona and Madrid-Barajas airports, and will be operational for a period of six months, during which time anonymised technical statistics on use of the system will be collected. Following this, each solution will be evaluated and its suitability for each port and airport border control post analysed.

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Automated Border Control

Posted by Mike Parr at 17 May 2010, 16:26 CET
I note that they have installed automated border control on the motorwway connecting Belgium with the Channel ports, its so fast that I can drive through in my car at 150kph and not even notice it.

Of course, the above was ironic - there is no auto-border control on land, indeed there are no border controls to speak of between many EU MS. This raises the question - what makes airports so special when travelling between EU MS? Sure, check you and the bags for bombs but otherwise what's the point. One answer being that the security industry - keen to promote ever more expensive equipment, massages politico half wits (and their bureaurcrat hangers on) to purchase this kit. Given the on-going economic problems, perhaps its time for citizens to call a halt to this waste of money. For myself, I am progressively cutting out air travel and substituting trains which have yet to engage in the ritualised humiliation of their customers - unlike the airlines.