Eurosceptics said they were vindicated following years of being called xenophobes and racists as euro politicians were poised to approve a major security crackdown.
Tomorrow MEPs will vote on a package of no-nonsense proposals which will bring in automatic checks on all people travelling in and out of the bloc by land, sea and air.
The EU is finally set to beef up its borders
The measure will target both EU and non-EU citizens and is designed to help the bloc combat the twin threats of Islamist terror and uncontrolled immigration.
During a debate on the proposals at the EU parliament in Strasbourg today eurosceptics said it was madness that European authorities do not already know who is coming in and out of the continent.
Former Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe said the move 'vindicated' eurosceptics
The measures are designed to prevent future terror attacks
Former Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe said the report represented a major U-turn for Brussels and demonstrated that conservative politicians had been right all along about border controls.
He said: “We were ridiculed and name called, xenophobes, racists, casually thrown out.
“This paper says border controls are in the interests of member states. Those of us who have been saying that for years are vindicated.
“Only the people of Europe are saying why did it take you so long to come to the same conclusion?”
Under the proposals EU member states will be required to carry out systematic checks on all travels entering and exiting the bloc’s external borders and to share information on potential terrorists via security databases.
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Those of us who have been saying that for years are vindicated
Former Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe
They are expected to come into force in mid April if ratified by all the major EU institutions and will mark the biggest step Brussels has taken to tackle the threat of terror attacks.
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola said: “Controls at our external borders are crucial. Having systematic checks for persons enjoying the right of free movement is both necessary and required.”
She admitted the EU has “learnt some difficult lessons over the last few years” and added: “We cannot allow terrorists to hide behind the protection afforded to them by their European passports.
“We simply must know whether people coming or going pose a threat.”
But the proposals were opposed by some left-wing politicians who said that they would water down the EU’s principle of free movement and discriminated against migrants trying to enter the continent.
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Moroccan Police look at immigrants trying to jump the six-meter-high fence in Ceuta, Spanish enclave on the north of Africa, 09 December 2016.
Spanish MEP Marina Albiol Guzman raged: “You want to make freedom of movement into something totally contrary to that, to create fear and make people go back to where they are not safe and where they are not able to seek refuge in our countries.
“Those who are dangerous are you here who are trying to push forward legislation that is contrary to human rights.”
But British EU Commissioner Julian King, who is presenting the proposal, said it was necessary to address the huge lack of confidence people have in Brussels to keep them safe.
He said: “Security is one of the major concerns of our citizens and we believe that the reinforcement of checks will reinforce our external borders and strengthen our knowledge about who enters and leaves our shared space.”
The package will be voted on tomorrow by members of the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg. If passed it will be put before member states on March 5, and after that be put onto the EU statute books.