Strengthening Schengen

Once the system becomes interoperable it will help border guards to easily catch criminals

Photo: EPA Commissioners Avramopoulos (L) and King (R) present the new system.

The Council adopted last Monday the Commission's proposal to strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is Europe's most widely used information sharing system for migration, security and border management, the EU press service reported. A political priority for 2018-2019 and a key element for the future interoperability of EU information systems, the reinforced SIS will help border guards and police to better track down dangerous criminals and terrorists.

“The Schengen Information System lies at the very heart of Schengen, safeguarding the free movement of people within the area, but also protecting our citizens from those who wish to abuse that freedom. Once it becomes interoperable with our other migration and security systems, it will help border guards and police identify dangerous criminals and terrorists and prevent them from entering the Schengen area,” Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said. “From preventing terror attacks to missing children, the SIS is the centrepiece of information exchange in the EU, with more than 200,000 criminals tracked down and 50,000 arrests made,” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King added.

The reinforced SIS will include, among others, the following upgrades: New alerts on criminals and return decisions; greater vigilance for terrorist offences; enforcement of entry bans; stronger data protection rules; improved interoperability; and enhanced access for EU Agencies. The agreed changes will allow SIS alerts to be issued for unknown persons who are wanted in connection with a crime. In addition, a new alert category for return decisions will be introduced to improve the enforcement of return decisions issued to irregularly-staying third-country nationals.

Under the strengthened SIS national authorities will be obliged to create a SIS alert in cases related to terrorist offences and a new “inquiry check” to gather essential information. National authorities will also be able to issue preventive alerts on persons who are in need of protection, in addition to existing alerts on missing persons. Furthermore, it will be now compulsory to insert into SIS any entry bans issued to third-country nationals allowing their enforcement throughout the Schengen area.

The new SIS functionalities will be implemented in a phased manner, with a requirement for the system to be fully operational in Member States 3 years following entry into force of the legislation, i.e. in 2021.

 

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