The Royal Yachting Association says e-Borders will hinder recreational sailors

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) says a report on the Home Office’s e-Borders programme highlights its potential impact on recreational sailors.

The RYA has welcomed the report published by the Independent Chief Inspector
of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, which it says reiterates its concerns in relation to the maritime leisure

What is e-Borders?

The e-Borders programme has been in development for over a decade now, and has cost nearly half a billion pounds of public money, with many millions more to be invested over the coming years.

The intention of e-Borders is to ‘export the border’ by preventing passengers considered a threat to the UK from travelling, as well as delivering more efficient immigration control.

The Home Office believes that the UK’s security will be improved by screening everyone who crosses, enters or leaves the UK.

However, the RYA says the
Government has still failed to publish a comprehensive proposal of how
it intends to achieve this in the recreational boating sector.

The plan was previously to introduce the e-Borders programme into the recreational boating sector in 2014, although the RYA says there is currently no confirmation as to when it will roll out.

Report findings

The RYA says the report explains in some detail the ‘incompatibility between the e-Borders
scheme and EU free movement and data protection legislation’ and the
‘legal and practical issues hindering the collection of passenger data’.

It also specifically acknowledges the concerns raised by the RYA in
relation to leisure craft but then does not address these issues in its recommendations.

Instead it recommends that the Home Office: ‘Introduces a
reporting and risk assessment process for GM [General Marine] traffic
based on the e-Borders system and a process to provide for interception
of vessels on a risk basis’.

RYA response

The RYA would like see ‘no compulsory reporting of cross border movements by recreational craft for intra-EU voyages’.

Gus Lewis, RYA head of legal and government affairs, says: ‘We maintain our long-held view that the e-Borders reporting methodology is simply not designed to accommodate the unscheduled activities of the recreational boating sector.

‘We welcome the acknowledgement in this report of the legal and practical issues that the RYA pointed out to the e-Borders team several years ago but it is concerning that the Chief Inspector did not seek to address these issues when formulating his recommendations.’

He added: ‘The Home Office has from the outset expressed its desire to implement the e-Borders programme in the maritime leisure sector so, in this respect, the Chief Inspector’s recommendation is nothing new.
‘We will continue to oppose the implementation of a regime in which all cross-border voyages to and from other EU states by recreational craft are required to be notified to the UK Government in advance of the voyage.’

Read the report in full here.

Click here to read more about the RYA’s concerns about e-Borders.

Picture: Foredeck of Border Force Cutter Valiant © RYA