New immigration measures 'illegal' under EU law

The Government’s controversial e-Borders scheme could be dropped after the Home Affairs Select Committee published the report of its investigation into the Government’s £1.2 billion programme. The report concluded that ‘the e-Borders programme is therefore, as far as we can ascertain, likely to be illegal under the EU Treaty’ and we understand that the European Commission has written to the Government in similar terms.

Reports from the national media suggest that the Home Office has now agreed that travellers will not be obliged to give personal information when they travel, in order to ensure that the whole scheme does not fall foul of EU rules on the free movement of people within the EU.

Gus Lewis, Head of Government Affairs at the RYA said ‘Although the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry was primarily aimed at commercial carriers, we submitted formal written evidence to the Committee in August 2009 on behalf of recreational boaters.

‘We are pleased that the Committee has acknowledged a number of flaws in the e-Borders programme and we will continue to challenge the Government’s proposals for implementing the e-Borders programme in the recreational boating sector.

‘It remains to be seen how the Government will respond to the Committee’s report but, if the reports in the national media are correct, the future of the e-Borders programme in its current form must be in doubt.’