Monday, 17 August 2009

Massive data collection exercise at the EU/ Schengen external borders in August/ September

UPDATE: Find the results of the data collection exercise here.

According to a newly released Council document (dated 8 June; only partially public), the EU and Schengen member states will run a massive data collection exercise at the external borders from 31 August to 6 September 2009.

Initially planned for June and postponed to the dates indicated above (with the data being transferred to the Council Secretariat in mid-September), the goal of this exercise is
"comparable data on entries and exits of different categories of travelers at different types of external borders, currently not available in all Member States, that would be useful in preparatory work within the Commission with a view to submitting in the beginning of 2010 a legislative proposal on the creation of a system of electronic recording of entry and exit data."
In earlier discussions, member states had different opinions whether this data collection would include all border crossing points, and it is not clear whether this is the case or not. A Council document from May highlights that
"[t]he added value of the proposed exercise would be the gathering of comparable data on entries and exits of different categories of travelers at different types of external borders in the Member States"
while noting that
"the exercise is not aimed at establishing estimates on the total number of border crossings in Member States."
Since the documents are only partially public, it is not absolutely clear what kind of date will be assembled through which measures. It is also not clear whether this will be random sampling (e.g. every fifth/tenth/twentieth traveller) or a complete sampling of everyone crossing the border during this one week.

Since this will be a kind of test run for a standardised exit/entry database, it would be interesting to know what the European Data Protection Supervisor (or his national colleague) think about this exercise...

PS.: And also note that discussions on the Passenger Name Record (PNR) are continuing intransparently in the Council (see my previous coverage).