What is the change? The Council of the European Union has called for “accelerating the implementation” of a number of border control measures in the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.

What does the change mean? The Council has proposed checking EU nationals’ biometric information at external borders, ensuring that EU member states have access to relevant Interpol databases when conducting border checks, and registering third-country nationals who enter the EU illegally. While the recommendations have not received final approval, the measures would lead to longer wait times when entering the EU, including for EU nationals.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Anyone entering the EU, including EU nationals and others who enjoy freedom-of-movement privileges.
  • Business impact: Business and other travelers would face longer wait times and enhanced security checks at the EU’s external borders.
  • Next steps: The Council called on the Council’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security to work with the appropriate working groups, agencies and the European Commission to ensure “effective implementation of the operational measures” it endorsed.

Background: Many of the measures the Council called for on Nov. 20 had already been recommended, but the Council stated that officials should accelerate the implementation of the security proposals.

Among border control measures, the Council called on the EU to implement “systematic and coordinated” checks at external borders, including for EU nationals; upgrade Schengen countries’ border control systems to provide access to relevant Interpol databases and automatic screening of all travel documents; register and take fingerprints from third-country nationals who enter the Schengen area illegally; deploy border intervention teams and police officers to areas of the EU’s borders that are “most exposed” to illegal crossings; and develop a proposal for a “targeted revision” of the Schengen Border Code to provide for verification of biometric information from EU nationals at external borders.

The Council also recommended collecting more data on air travel, strengthening firearms laws and developing new strategies to target terrorism financing.

BAL Analysis: Europe has been grappling for months over how best to control its external and internal borders as it deals with the biggest migration crisis since World War II and threats from terrorist groups. The Council’s endorsement of external border control measures, while not binding, could set the stage for enhanced security and longer wait times for travelers entering Europe. BAL will continue to follow Europe’s border policy debate and will alert clients to any significant developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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