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EU countries to agree on tighter passport checks: draft document

[BRUSSELS] European Union interior ministers are set to agree on Friday to tighten checks at the external borders of the passport-free Schengen area to boost security after the attacks in Paris, a draft document seen by Reuters said.

Ministers will agree to "implement immediately the necessary systematic and coordinated checks at external borders, including on individuals enjoying the right of free movement," the draft conclusions of their meeting said.

The document reflects France's requests to strengthen controls at the external borders of the 26-nation Schengen area, of which most EU countries are members, except Britain, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria.

Citizens of Schengen countries have their documents visually checked by security forces already when they leave or enter the area, but the new proposal is likely to upgrade the controls so that documents can be checked against criminal and security databases.