Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Security without Liberty – the UK joins the Schengen Information System

A Fistful of Euros has discovered that the UK will join the new Schengen Information System II, which is designed to allow border control, customs and police authorities to share information. Under SIS II, information on suspects, potential illegal immigrants, missing persons and stolen property can be shared. Biometric data, such as fingerprints and photographs, and European Arrest Warrants can also be shared.

The fact that the UK is joining in on this aspect of European integration is not going to be trumpeted from the rooftops of Westminster in the current Europe-bashing climate. It does point to the fact that cross-border co-operation on crime and law enforcement is necessary in a globalised world – and in a common space like the EU in particular. However, UK citizens aren’t exactly getting the full benefits of the Schengen system. Passport controls are still an issue, and Britain loses out on potential tourism from countries such as Japan and China because they are not part of the common visa.

All the extra security and co-operation that the Schengen zone entails is meant not only to create better security for the sake of more security – rather, it is to help create more liberties and freedoms for citizens. Not for the first time, it seems that security is preferred over liberty in the UK, at least when it comes to “Europe”.

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