France’s interior minister has announced that European countries will increase identity checks and baggage controls on trains after a terrorist attack was averted on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, according to an AP report.
Bernard Cazeneuve said the reinforced ID and bag checks would be carried out on cross-border trains “everywhere it is necessary.” He spoke after meeting in Paris with top security and transport officials from nine countries and the European Union in the wake of last week’s attack attempt.
At the meeting, officials struggled to find security solutions that protect travelers but don’t threaten the continent’s border-free travel zone or the extensive rail network that is the lifeblood of European transport.
The group meeting Saturday pushed for train tickets printed with passengers’ names on them, which is currently allowed but not required. In a statement, they floated the possibility of letting train police consult intel databases and better Europe-wide use of criminal record databases.
Such measures, if implemented, would require close monitoring to ensure that they do not constitute border controls, which are illegal under the rule book governing the passport-free area known as the Schengen zone. They could also raise privacy concerns, which have held up Europe-wide legislation on aviation passenger name records.
The security officials said there’s no way to monitor each passenger and bag without choking the continental train system, which Europeans rely upon heavily.
“We can’t do and don’t want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage in trains in Germany or Europe,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on the sidelines of the meeting.
He said the main issue is to improve targeted cooperation and the exchange of information on suspicious people.
EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc called free travel within Europe “one of our greatest achievements.”
“I hope and I also believe we will find the right solution that will not jeopardize these fundamental rights, and at the same time ensure that the security on a European level is at its best,” she told reporters after the meeting.