Goverment satisfy EU, say RYA

The Government has provided a series of assurances to the European Union to ensure that its £1.2 billion e-Borders programme will be consistent with EU law. The European Commission has indicated that, in light of the clarifications, commitments and assurances given by the UK Government, it appears that the e-Borders programme would not be in breach of EU Directives relating to data protection and the freedom of movement of EU citizens,


This follows the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report of its investigation into the e-Borders programme, which concluded that “the e-Borders programme is therefore, as far as we can ascertain, likely to be illegal under the EU Treaty”.


Importantly, the UK Government has assured the EU that travellers who have not provided the UK authorities with relevant personal information will not be denied the right to travel, thereby ensuring 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: “It seems that, in satisfying the European Commission’s concerns over the free movement of EU citizens, the UK Government has had to make significant concessions that may undermine its aspiration to collect and analyse information on everyone who travels to or from the United Kingdom.


“However, the Government has still not published a comprehensive explanation of how the e-Borders scheme will in practice be rolled out in the recreational boating sector so it is not clear how the recent correspondence between the UK Government and the EU will affect the implementation of the e-Borders programme for recreational boaters.


“For example, the assurances given by the Government refer to “carriers” and “passengers”, clearly with commercial carriers in mind, and it is still not clear how the UK Government proposes to relate these definitions to owners, charterers, skippers or crew in the recreational sector.


“We will be meeting with the UK Borders Agency during the London Boat Show where we will reiterate our view that the compulsory reporting of all cross-border movements in the recreational boating sector is disproportionate and likely to be ineffective at improving border security.


We will also reiterate that border security in our sector should instead be intelligence led, engaging with yachtsmen rather than alienating them. We will also, however, be seeking clarification of the potential impact of these assurances on the Government’s proposals for the recreational boating sector.”