Strengthening security through an EU-wide information system

Disused border crossings inside the Schengen area

© European Union , 2011 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Johanna Leguerre

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The improved Schengen Information System will contribute to the EU’s fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration.

MEPs adopted on Wednesday three draft regulations that will update the Schengen Information System (SIS), the most widely used information system for security and border management in Europe.

New in the upgraded Schengen Information System:

  • new alerts on unknown persons who are wanted in connection with serious crimes and terrorism;
  • national authorities will be obliged to share the details of terrorist acts with all member states;
  • preventive alerts for children at risk of abduction, particularly parental abduction, and additional alerts on vulnerable persons at risk, and
  • new alerts on return decisions to help enforce decisions by a member state on returning an illegally-staying non-EU national to his or her country of origin.

Currently border control, police, customs, judicial and migration authorities have access to the Schengen Information System. With the reform, Europol will also get access to all alerts in the system and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to the alerts related to its tasks.

Quotes

Rapporteur Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT) said: “SIS is the backbone of information exchange in Europe, for border guards and law enforcement authorities. This reform will prepare the system for the future, improve security and ensure freedom of movement. SIS is and will remain the biggest, most used, best-implemented database in Europe, while delivering more security to our citizens.”

Rapporteur Jeroen Lenaers (EPP, NL) said: “Due to a lack of information exchange between EU countries, a third country national with the obligation to return can easily avoid this obligation, by going to another Member State. Return policies should be more efficient, otherwise it will be very difficult to maintain support for receiving those asylum seekers that are in need of our help”.

Next steps

The rules relating to border checks were approved by 530 votes to 50, with 66 abstentions, the rules in connection to police and judicial cooperation by 555 votes to 67, with 20 abstentions and the rules on the return of illegally staying third-country nationals by 500 votes to 103, with 41 abstentions.

The new rules have already been agreed upon by the Parliament and Council negotiators in June, but still require the formal approval of the Council.

Background

SIS was established in 1995 after internal borders were abolished in the Schengen area. A more advanced version (known as “SIS II”) was established in 2006 and became operational in 2013. It is used in 30 countries throughout Europe and was consulted 5 billion times in 2017.

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