European Security: security in a nutshell – Part Two

The first of our blog series on global security looked at the negative impact of increasing globalization on the safety of the world’s population and how advanced information systems address the problem. Interoperability between these systems is essential. In this second blog of the series, we take a look at European security. Just as on the global stage, the main challenge is to close information gaps between security and information systems used by diverse law enforcement agencies.

European security and war

World War II was the most significant threat to European security in recent times. It disrupted the lives of around 100 million people from more than 30 countries. More than 70 to 85 million fatalities resulted, affecting the lives and security of many European citizens.

Global security declined still further in the years after World War II, which saw the rise of Cold war tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union. The resulting geopolitical tension between the USA-led Western Block and the Eastern Block led by the Soviet Union divided countries in Europe. Ending after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cold War directly affected the security of European citizens– far stricter security systems were in place in Eastern European countries compared to those in Western European countries.

The cornerstone of European freedom

In the post-World War II world, the Maastricht Treaty established the European Union (EU) in 1993. The aim was to promote the economic and social wellbeing of the participant countries. The Maastricht Treaty defines the “four freedoms” of the EU: namely, the free movement of goods, services, people, and money. The EU recognized that robust European security was fundamental to achieving this freedom of movement within Europe.

The EU Commission established several central agencies tasked with protecting the borders and national security of the EU. These agencies, in turn, provide support to national law enforcement agencies in each Member State.

Today’s governments face numerous border control and security challenges, categorized as illegal immigration, human trafficking, drug smuggling, organized crime, and terrorism. Over the last year, managing citizens’ health adds to these challenges as countries struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Securing Europe’s borders

A significant impact on European security arose following the establishment of the Schengen area. Signing the Schengen Agreement in 1985 effectively abolished borders between the European Member States that chose to adopt the agreement. As a result, this guarantees free movement to more than 400 million EU citizens. Border crossings between member countries are considered internal crossings, and external borders are defined as land or sea borders between Schengen- and non-Schengen countries. The Schengen countries share a virtual ‘air border’ for flights arriving from non-Schengen countries.

To help keep borders and citizens safe, WCC has developed identity-based information systems capable of quickly identifying suspects and victims using biographic and biometric data or metadata. These systems can manage unlimited volumes of identity and security data.

The challenge for European Security

The main challenge facing the EU is how to achieve interoperability between the different law enforcement agencies and police forces on the national level while closing security gaps on the EU regional level. This problem arises because EU information systems for security, border, and migration management are not well integrated. Instead, they are often fragmented (encompassing many “island” solutions), complex and challenging to operate. As a result, information may slip through the cracks, endangering the EU’s internal security.

Due to advances in technology, the EU recognizes that biometric systems and identity-based systems can provide solutions. To this end, eu-LISA established a roadmap towards interoperability in 2016. The goal is to eliminate information silos and to share information between central EU systems. To achieve this, the EU’s new information architecture for internal security, border, and migration management will require high-quality data and transparent access to data in compliance with the EU legislative framework.

Achieving interoperability

The closure of security gaps is not only essential in Europe but globally too. Only then can we achieve true interoperability between information systems used for border security, counterterrorism, and public safety. In the following blog, we focus on the different types of identity data, standards, technology, and systems that can achieve this. In particular, we focus on the new European Universal Message Format (UMF) and the POLE (Persons, Objects, Locations, and Event) standards.

WCC is a leading provider of advanced ID/Security solutions for government agencies worldwide. An earlier blog describes how WCC’s expertise and technology can help mitigate European security and interoperability challenges. If you would like more information, contact us to set up a call with our ID/Security experts.

Article by: Amr el Rahwan
Published on: April 22, 2021

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