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Europe agrees on new border surveillance system

The European Parliament and Council have agreed details of the new “Eurosur” border surveillance system.

Eurosur is a communication system designed to protect the EU’s external borders by detecting, preventing and combating illegal immigration and cross-border crime. On the insistence of MEPs, it must also be used to help save migrants’ lives when they are in danger.

When using Eurosur, EU countries must respect human rights, including the “non-refoulement” principle, which prohibits returning people to a place where their life or freedoms could be threatened.

Full compliance with EU fundamental rights standards, including personal data protection, is also vital. Under the agreed text, any exchange of personal data between member states and with third countries via Eurosur should remain an exception and respect data protection laws.

Eurosur aims to improve the management of the EU’s external borders by stepping up information exchange among EU member states and with the EU border management agency Frontex. This would include sharing real-time data and intelligence from various authorities and surveillance tools, such as satellites or ship reporting systems via a protected communication network.

The agreed text will have to be endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee and later by the full Parliament. Eurosur will start working on 2nd December 2013 in all member states with external borders. In the rest of the EU countries it will start operating as from 1st December 2014.

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