EU plans immigration exchange

The EU is to encourage member states to share data on illegal immigration through a planned web based network, the European Commission said on 20 January 2006.

The Commission has recently established procedural rules for accessing the Information and Coordination Network (ICOnet), transmitting, storing and deleting data. It is now planning to take forward the development of ICOnet to facilitate a quick and secure exchange of immigration data between EU countries.

The system will enable member states' immigration officers to pass a range of information to each other, including details of mass migration, movements of suspect ships and measures to combat illegal immigration. It is also hoped that governments across Europe will use the system to warn each other about changing patterns of migration.

Among other agencies, the UK's Immigration and Nationality Directorate has tested the system and found that further development was needed to handle secure messages.

EU commissioner for security Franco Frattini said ICOnet is a key system for managing migration.

“This IT based network is a modern 21st century tool, which provides an important platform for the exchange of strategical, tactical and operational information concerning illegal migratory movements in the EU. The use of such a network is, therefore, an indispensible element in the EU's efforts to combat illegal immigration more effectively,”he said.