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29 Oct 2018

EP votes for Schengen Information System upgrade

Schengen Information System - SISThe European information system for security and border management will soon be updated. The European Parliament members have approved three draft regulations that will update the Schengen Information System (SIS), in a bid to strengthen the fight against cross-border crime, terrorism and irregular migration.

The SIS is a large-scale centralized information system, which supports checks at the external Schengen Borders and improves law enforcement and judicial cooperation between 30 countries throughout Europe.

Under the new regulation, the SIS will include:

  • Alerts on unknown persons who are wanted for being linked to serious crimes and terrorism
  • Preventive alerts for children at risk of abduction (in particular parental abduction) as well as additional alerts on vulnerable persons at risk
  • Alerts on return decisions to help enforce decisions by a member state on deporting a non-EU national who was illegally staying in this area, to his or her country of origin

In addition, all member states will be obliged to share details of terrorist acts with all European national authorities, to facilitate the coming into force of the regulation.

The reform also grants Europol with direct access to all the alerts in the system, while the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will only have access to alerts related to its tasks.

Members of the European Parliament have assessed the approved changes as highly important for the security of European citizens and prevention of different risks.

Rapporteur Carlos Coelho from the Group of the European People’s Party said on the occasion that the new changes would prepare the system for the future by improving security, thus ensuring the freedom of movement.

“SIS is the backbone of information exchange in Europe, for border guards and law enforcement authorities,” he said adding that the SIS is and will remain the biggest, most used database in Europe, while delivering more security to European citizens.

Rapporteur Jeroen Lenaers of the Netherlands also commented on the upgrade, highlighting that so far, third-country nationals could easily avoid the obligation to return. He suggested that return policies should be more efficient.

“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,” Rapporteur Lenaers said.

The political agreement on the proposals to reinforce the Schengen Information System had been reached on June 12, 2018, between the European Parliament and the European Council. After the approval by the members of the parliament, now for the draft regulations to be implemented, the EU Council needs to give its final approval.

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