Thursday, December 20, 2007

Britain Can't Vote on EU Borderless Zone

Tuesday December 18, 11:47 am ET
EU Court:
Britain Has No Right to Influence Security Measures in EU's Borderless Travel Zone

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) --
Britain was told Tuesday by the European Union's Court of Justice it could not vote on security issues concerning the union's borderless travel zone -- a system in which Britain does not participate.

The Luxembourg-based court rejected a British case filed two years ago demanding the right to take part in the creation of the EU's new external borders agency, Frontex, and in adopting security features for biometric passports.

The court said EU treaty opt-outs, which Britain demanded in 2000, legally prevent it from having a say over the security measures. Participating EU governments were right to refuse London a vote on the issues, the court ruled.

The ruling was an embarrassment for Britain, which wants to increase cooperation with its 26 European Union partners to combat terrorism, human trafficking and illegal migration. Britain decided years ago not to participate in a borderless EU travel zone, in which citizens can move from one nation to another without showing passports or identity cards.

New measures were adopted in 2004 to improve security in the so-called Schengen borderless zone, which will grow by nine countries Dec. 21 to a total of 24 countries.

To expand the passport-free zone, the EU needs to revamp its border security system, which is run through an EU database that allows participating states to share passport data on non-EU citizens who enter the Schengen zone.

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