Viewing cable 04THEHAGUE1183

04THEHAGUE11832004-05-13 10:17:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy The Hague
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
¶1. SUMMARY: ConGen, Embassy and USEU officials met recently 
with the Justice Ministry to discuss immigration issues for 
upcoming Dutch EU presidency.  The Dutch invited USG to make 
a presentation on biometrics and US-VISIT program at an EU 
seminar on biometrics in The Hague July 1 and 2.  The Dutch 
stressed concern that the decision to enroll VWP travelers 
in US-VISIT at the end of September would receive widespread 
negative press attention and could generate calls for 
retaliatory action.  They also emphasized the focus of their 
presidency would be implementation of existing agreements 
rather than generation of new policy.  Finally, they 
indicated Justice/Immigration DG Visser hoped to visit the 
U.S. soon (July 1 is suggested time).  END SUMMARY. 
¶2. At an April 15 meeting with Consul General, Global Issues 
officers and USEU representative, Ministry of Justice 
officials discussed preparations on immigration issues for 
their EU presidency.  A 10-person EU Presidency team, headed 
by Reiner ter Kuile, Director of Immigration Policy, had 
been formed to focus on these issues. 
¶3. Mr. ter Kuile re-iterated an invitation to the U.S. to 
make a presentation at an EU seminar on biometrics to be 
held in The Hague July 1-2.  They would like the speaker to 
address: (1) latest information on the US-VISIT and VWP 
programs; (2) American experience with facial recognition 
and finger scanning, especially in connection with US-VISIT; 
(3) likely future developments related to use of biometrics 
in U.S. documents; (4) views on iris scanning and the uses 
for which it might be appropriate; (5) preparations to 
introduce biometric enrollment at our land borders; and (6) 
prospects for standardization of U.S. drivers licenses, 
birth certificates and similar key identification documents 
issued by individual states.  [Note: DHS Sec. Ridge told 
Justice Minister Donner on March 31 he would send Jim 
Williams, DHS Director of US-VISIT program, to participate 
in the seminar.] 
¶4. The Dutch stressed their concern that the decision to 
enroll VWP travelers in US-VISIT in September would receive 
widespread negative press attention and might generate calls 
for retaliatory actions against US visitors.  They warned 
that the European press would probably be deliberately 
provocative and inflammatory and the subject was ideally 
suited to liven up an end-of-summer news lull.  They feared 
this could develop into an ugly confrontation with at least 
some EU member countries and create an unwelcome distraction 
during the fall.  They urged the U.S. to develop an early 
and effective public relations campaign to explain US-VISIT 
procedures and address/defuse likely concerns about long 
lines at U.S. POEs, invasion of privacy, being "treated like 
criminals," etc.  Justice Ministry Director General for 
Immigration Rob Visser raised similar concerns in his 
discussion with visiting EUR PDAS Charles Ries April 27. 
¶5. While Ter Kuile and others stressed immigration and 
security issues would be priority issues during their 
presidency, they did not offer program specifics.  They 
spoke of three areas of concentration - providing a 
strategic view on immigration issues (a post Tampere 
framework); working on the visa information system and 
biometrics; and trying to tie more development aid to good 
migration policy in third countries.  They emphasized the 
Dutch intention to focus on implementing existing EU 
agreements rather than launching new initiatives. 
¶6. The Dutch Immigration Service has been trying to get DG 
Visser to visit the U.S. for the past several months. 
During his meeting with EUR PDAS Ries, Visser indicated he 
hoped to get to Washington around July 1.  When the Embassy 
followed up with Visser's office on May 10, it was unable to 
confirm a date.  [Note: Visser will be the Justice 
Ministry's senior point of contact for JHA issues during the 
Dutch EU presidency.  The Immigration Service would like him 
to visit the U.S.-Canadian and -Mexican borders, in addition 
to high-level Washington meetings.  We will keep Washington 
informed of Visser's travel plans.] 
¶7. COMMENT: The invitation to participate in the July 
biometrics seminar provides an excellent opportunity to 
demonstrate our interest in accelerating EU progress in 
developing and harmonizing Member States' biometrics 
programs.  It will be important to send appropriately senior 
experts to help the Dutch launch this initiative.  The Dutch 
team was emphatic about the potential for "trouble" arising 
from enrolling VWP country travelers in US-VISIT.  They said 
most EU Member State governments would understand the U.S. 
action, but it could become a political issue, ala PNR, 
complicating their presidency.  They strongly urged the U.S. 
to anticipate an adverse public reaction, develop a strategy 
for responding to it and keep the Dutch informed to enable 
them to minimize any problems.  Finally, it is apparent the 
Dutch do not plan to launch any new initiatives during their 
presidency, but will work to move things along that are 
already in the pipeline (like biometrics in travel documents 
and measures to combat terrorism).  According to USEU, this 
will mirror the Irish approach.  END COMMENT.