Belgium is creating a new biometric database to keep tabs on migrants within the country. The database is intended to curtail illegal immigration, and will supplement the European Union’s Entry/Exit System (EES) that is slated to go into effect before the end of the year.
Once the EES is fully implemented, non-citizens will be expected to provide a wealth of personal information whenever they enter the EU territory. That includes face and fingerprint biometrics, in addition to the traveler’s date and place of entry and their anticipated date and place of departure. They will also need to submit a more traditional travel document.
According to Belgian lawmakers, the incumbent system does not do enough to prevent the movement of illegal immigrants once they are within the borders of the EU. For example, someone could cross the Spanish border with a 90-day visa, and then move on to France (or another country) to evade detection once that visa expires.
Belgium’s Federal Council of Ministers is authorizing the new biometric database to prevent such activity. Every member of the EU will have access to the database, making it easier for authorities to determine whether or not someone overstayed their welcome in another country and is trying to remain in the EU with an expired document.
In the past, authorities have tried to find illegal immigrants with manual checks, and often had no way of determining when someone’s visa expired. The biometric database, on the other hand, should create a more reliable digital trail for authorities to follow.
Both Belgium and the EU have reported an increasing number of migrants in the past few years. Belgium has reported that more than 200,000 people are entering the country with short-stay visas on an annual basis, while the EU Coast Guard has indicated that 40,300 people crossed the border illegally in the first quarter of the new year. IDEMIA and Sopra Steria have been providing biometric border screening technology for EU members through a contract that was secured back in 2020.
May 12, 2022 – by Eric Weiss