Maybe it is finally time to say goodbye to airport queues. If so it is not a day too lte. Lastvyear more than 4 billion prople travelled by airplane.

This text is written by Rob Leslie for WEF.

‘Sitting around the dinner table recently at a family gathering my sister, who lives in Paris, was venting her frustrations about the queues she experienced recently at the electronic border gates in Heathrow airport.

My brother then chimed in with his experiences, which went something along the lines of: “I couldn’t get through either, the machine didn’t like the look of me!”

I asked if he had removed his glasses, as they might have affected the facial scanner. He said he hadn’t been asked to remove them; had he known, he would have.

This conversation highlights an important point – that while the biometric or e-passport is better than its predecessors, it is still not the perfect solution. We cannot lose sight of the customer experience in the rush to deploy the latest technology because of its touted gains in efficiency or the increased return on investment. The customer experience must be better than what exists now: 20 or 30 seconds for a passenger to clear an e-gate is too long when there are 400 people behind them waiting to be processed. It needs to be two or three seconds.

With 1.8 billion international arrivals expected 2030, identity management is going to become even more complex because not all countries, government agencies, airports and airlines are at the same level of maturity. It is absolutely critical that all the actors in the travel ecosystem know with certainty that every passenger is who they claim to be. This will require new processes to be designed, tested and adopted which will in turn require significant increases in transparency, industry and governmental cooperation and better communication between all the stakeholders. New technologies like biometrics, blockchain and ero-knowledge proofs have a significant role to play.

One possible solution under development for creating a better airport and travel experience is a passenger token. The token uses a passenger’s facial biometric data to identify them at the various points in the airport where there is an engagement of some kind. This removes the need for the regular presentation of travel documents at every step of their journey.

To make this possible, the passenger’s facial biometric must be bound to their ticket, visa, boarding pass and passport at the very start of their journey. This could work as follows: the passenger checks-in at home and declares their passport details as part of this process. These details can be securely verified with their government’s passport office using privacy-preserving technologies such as zero-knowledge proofs; the passport office packages the e-passport and other associated travel details into a token, with the customer’s express consent included to allow it to be accessed by parties who need to view it. This information is then made available to the relevant government agencies, airports and airlines for the duration of the traveller’s journey’.

Source: WEF

Let me start by thanking the beautiful city of Salzburg, the Austrian EU Presidency. -//-

It is a truly impressive; the hospitality, the logistics, and it is not an empty compliment. It is one of the best political performances I ever experienced. -//-

At our EU27 working lunch today we had a good discussion on Brexit, which once again reconfirmed our full unity. Let me highlight three points.

First, we reconfirmed that there will be no Withdrawal Agreement without a solid, operational and legally binding Irish backstop. And we continue to fully support Michel Barnier in his efforts to find such a model.

Second, we agreed to have a joint political declaration that provides as much clarity as possible on the future relations. Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work. Not least because it risks undermining the Single Market.

Third, we also discussed the timetable for further negotiations. The moment of truth for Brexit negotiations will be the October European Council. In October we expect maximum progress and results in the Brexit talks. Then we will decide whether conditions are there to call an extraordinary summit in November to finalise and formalise the deal.

You can read the entire statement here: Donald Tusk Salzburg

Donald Tusk yesterday said that Theresa May’s Chequers proposals for dealing with the Irish border and future trade relations after Brexit will need to be “reworked and further negotiated” in a sign of how far the UK and EU are from resolving the most fraught issues in the divorce talks.

Opening the EU summit in Salzburg, Tusk, the European council president, said the Brexit talks were entering a decisive phase and that “various scenarios” were still possible – a clear hint that no-deal remained a possibility if no acceptable resolution to the negotiations could be reached.

Tusk said that some of May’s Chequers proposals “indicated positive evolution” and highlighted the “among other things, the readiness to cooperate on security and foreign policy”.

But in a blow to the British prime minister the EU leader said that was not the case “on other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic co-operation, where the UK proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated”.

Tusk confirmed there would be a special European summit in November, which is intended to be when Brexit negotiations end, and tried to add a note of urgency in conclusion, saying: “There is more hope but there is surely less and less time, every day left we must use for talks.”

At the Salzburg summit May will reject the revised Irish backstop border proposals of Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, because the EU is still insisting on customs checks in the Irish Sea if the two sides cannot strike a free trade agreement after Brexit.

The prime minister foreshadowed the argument she will make to the other EU leaders over dinner on Wednesday evening in an article in Die Welt, which said the proposed backstop was unacceptable because it did not respect “the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK”.

She will arrive in Salzburg on Wednesday afternoon at an informal EU council during which she will address Brexit over dinner; EU leaders will discuss the issue again at lunch on Thursday in her absence.

Hours before she arrived however, the former Brexit secretary, David Davis, released remarks from a speech he will give in Munich on Thursday, in which he says the prime minister’s Chequers plan did not fulfil the will of the British people and that May had crossed a series of “red lines”.

“We have been told that the Chequers proposal fulfils what the British people voted for. Well, I am afraid I simply do not buy that,” Davis is to say. “Fifty-two per cent of British voters oppose the proposals. Only 18% approve. It is quite remarkable for a government policy to be that unpopular.

“At Lancaster and Mansion House [where May gave keynote Brexit speeches] the prime minister promised to return control over our law, our money and our borders. These promises were in [the Conservative] manifesto too. But the Chequers plan crosses on all of those red lines. The EU is often correctly described as having a democratic deficit. But Chequers is devoid of democracy altogether.”

The former minister, who resigned when May promised to impose Chequers, will say in a speech to a German thinktank that “many of us will shortly be presenting an alternative plan which will outline a more ambitious vision” and said that the UK and Europe would be better off if they engaged in friendly economic competition.

In Salzburg, the prime minister will also hold bilateral meetings on Thursday with the Tusk, and the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, as she seeks to end the impasse over the future of the UK’s only land border.

On Tuesday, Barnier said he was making revised proposals as part of an attempt to “de-dramatise” the issue, and tried to downplay them by describing them as “a set of technical checks and controls”, insisting that the EU respected the territorial integrity of the UK.

Source: The Guardian

Speaking today about SmartBorders and Brexit at the Getlink/Eurotunnel Freight Industry Forum at Millibank Tower in London.

It was a truly great event hosted by Jo Willacy and John Keefe from Eurotunnel.

I also participated with Karen Wheeler, Director General of the UK Government Border Coordination for Brexit, in a very open, transperent and interesting panel discussion.

Here below tou find EUs Cheif Brexit negotiator Michel Barniers comments in a Press Statement issued yesterday.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our proposal for the backstop on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been on the table since February.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, whatever the future relationship will bring.

It reflects our agreement with the UK in December 2017, confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her letter to President Tusk in March.

We are ready to improve this proposal.

Work on the EU side is ongoing:

• We are clarifying which goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.

• We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border, at the company premises or in the market.

• We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed and that are caused by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and customs union.

What we need in the Withdrawal Agreement is a legally operational backstop, which fully respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

This backstop will only apply unless and until a better solution is found, in the context of our future relationship.

Here is a link to the entire statement: Barnier

The European Union has presented their reform paper on how the World Trade Organization (WTO) can be modernize to meet the challenges of the future.

The European Commission yesterday presented a first set of ideas on how to modernise the WTO and to make international trade rules fit for the challenges of the global economy.

Presenting the Commission’s concept paper, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The multilateral trading system has for the past decades provided a stable, predictable and effective framework for companies across the world, helping many economies to grow rapidly. Also today, the WTO is indispensable in ensuring open, fair and rules-based trade. But despite its success, the World Trade Organisation has not been able to adapt sufficiently to the rapidly changing global economy. The world has changed, the WTO has not. It’s high time to act to make the system able to address challenges of the today’s global economy and work for everyone again. And the EU must take a lead role in that.”

The EU remains a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system. For that reason, the European Council of 28-29 June 2018 gave the European Commission a mandate to pursue WTO modernisation to adapt it to a changing world, and to strengthen its effectiveness.

The EU’s concept paper published today and already consulted with EU Member States sets out the direction of this modernisation effort. Without prejudice to the EU’s final position on these matters, these ideas relate to three key areas:

    • updating the rule book on international trade to capture today’s global economy strengthening the monitoring role of the WTO
    • overcoming the imminent deadlock on the WTO dispute settlement system.

    The EU already started to engage with other WTO partners: with the US and Japan, in the framework of the trilateral discussions; with China, in the dedicated working group set up during the latest EU-China Summit; with other partners, most recently at the G20 Trade Ministerial. The EU will continue discussing these first ideas with various WTO partners in the coming weeks with a view to preparing concrete proposals to the WTO.  The European Parliament and the Council will be kept fully on board of those discussions.

    The existence of agreed rules on cross border trade, monitored by the WTO and enforced through an impartial system for resolving disputes helped for decades to defuse trade tensions and avert trade wars. However, the development of new rules on trade has not happened in sync with economic, political and technological changes. In particular, market-distorting subsidies, often channelled through state-owned enterprises are not adequately captured under current international trade rules, eroding the level playing field for economic operators.

    The WTO is now increasingly burdened by inflexible procedures and conflicting interest amongst countries. The arm of the WTO that resolves trade disputes is on the verge of being paralysed because of the blocking of nominations of new WTO Appellate Body Members. And the WTO’s role as a monitoring body is under threat by a lack of transparency from many countries.

    The proposals published today aim to redress this situation and make the system efficient to the benefit of all its member countries.

    You can read the document here: EU Reform Paper WTO