The Tools Called to Support the 'Delivery' of Freedom, Security and Justice : a Comparison of Border Security Systems in the EU and in the US

16-02-2009

While the European Union is about to take far-reaching decisions on the best way to ensure the security of its external border, there is a strong tendency to take guidance from the United States, the world’s undisputed forerunner in employing advanced technology and strict control procedures. Besides highlighting the weaknesses of the current EU approach against the background of the almost accomplished US system, the briefing undertakes to analyse to what extent exclusive transatlantic inspiration is the right way to follow for European policy-makers. It carefully examines US experience gained since the late 1990s in setting up a watertight entry-exit system, in particular the reasons why, despite all efforts made and resources spent, the project did not yet yield a completely satisfactory outcome. It also argues that even such advanced models can never be considered “one size fit all”-solutions, transferable to other regions with paying attention to their political, geographic and other specificities – and, above all, one should not overestimate technology as a problem-solver. Besides taking inspiration from outside, the European Union should also consider alternative mechanisms adapted to the domestic situation such as controls carried out inside the territory.

While the European Union is about to take far-reaching decisions on the best way to ensure the security of its external border, there is a strong tendency to take guidance from the United States, the world’s undisputed forerunner in employing advanced technology and strict control procedures. Besides highlighting the weaknesses of the current EU approach against the background of the almost accomplished US system, the briefing undertakes to analyse to what extent exclusive transatlantic inspiration is the right way to follow for European policy-makers. It carefully examines US experience gained since the late 1990s in setting up a watertight entry-exit system, in particular the reasons why, despite all efforts made and resources spent, the project did not yet yield a completely satisfactory outcome. It also argues that even such advanced models can never be considered “one size fit all”-solutions, transferable to other regions with paying attention to their political, geographic and other specificities – and, above all, one should not overestimate technology as a problem-solver. Besides taking inspiration from outside, the European Union should also consider alternative mechanisms adapted to the domestic situation such as controls carried out inside the territory.

Autor externo

Peter Hobbing (CEPS, Brussels, Belgium) and Rey Koslowski (Transatlantic Academy, Washington D.C. and University at Albany, State University at New York, USA)