People who have quarrels with the intrusions and costs of American public security programs may be astounded by a proposal emanating from Brussels, Belgium. A top European Union official has proposed major changes for countries in the EU bloc.
Critics of the plan focus on the complexity of the project, the remote chances for carrying it out efficiently and the incredible costs that will be involved.
EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini says his proposals include fingerprinting and screening all visitors who cross a member's external borders along with the use of a satellite system to keep out illegal immigrants.
And we think we have some drastic proposals in the name of homeland security!
Frattini says his plan would safeguard the borders of the EU's passport-free zone, which includes 24 countries, and that it would prevent people from entering illegally or overstaying their visas. Sound familiar?
Officials say that the Frattini plan, if approved by 27 EU governments, would represent one of the largest security overhauls in the EU and would cost billions of dollars. Critics say it is an attempt to create a total-surveillance "Big Brother" society that violates European privacy rights and freedoms.
"We want to be generous toward honest people coming from outside Europe, but we want to be very tough and very clear to Mafia groups, traffickers, criminals, and terrorists," says Frattini. He hopes the program can be implemented by 2013.
Analysts say such sweeping EU measures would replicate many of the border checks in the United States but would go further by demanding that EU citizens also submit fingerprints to participate in computerized fast-track, entry-exit customs controls. Proponents say Japan also has an entry-exit fingerprinting system in place and that Russia is considering adopting one.
But consider the problems of setting up such an elaborate system, administering it and paying for it, year after year. If we in America think we are spending a lot of money for our security system, consider how massive the outlay would be for the EU region, even with 27 nations sharing the cost.
It's sad to ponder such vast expenditures to prevent crime and illegal activity when that money could accomplish so much if directed to more positive activities.