German police doesn't have staff to check passports in Schengen zone: union

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2015 5:29 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's police force does not have enough employees to carry out passport checks for flights within Europe's passport-free Schengen zone, the deputy chairman of the police union said on Friday.

German newspaper Bild reported on Thursday that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was looking into the possibility of re-introducing identity checks for passengers on flights within the European Union and Schengen zone because when a Germanwings plane crashed in France last week, killing 150, it was not at first totally clear who was on board.

But the German police union's Sven Hueber said: "The German federal police certainly can't check all airline passengers in the Schengen zone on a permanent basis."

"We simply don't have the staff for that."

The German federal police is already short of 2,900 officers without the extra passport controls and the government is only planning to approve 500 jobs in 2016, Hueber said.

"It's for the airlines to correctly determine the identity of their passengers and to guarantee this to the security authorities," Hueber said.

"If the airlines can't guarantee the identity of the passenger with absolute certainty, they're not allowed to take the passenger with them."

Most European Union member countries belong to the Schengen zone as do neighbours such as Switzerland and Norway.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Susan Fenton)