Border control: strengthening security in the EU
- new ‘alerts’ on terrorist threats, on children at risk and on entry bans
- ‘return’ decisions on illegally staying people better enforced
- more automatic and efficient information-sharing between member states
An improved Schengen Information System should help to step up the EU fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration.
The Civil Liberties Committee adopted three regulations to update the Schengen Information System (SIS), including:
- an obligation for a member state to swiftly share details of a terrorist act with all other member states;
- a preventive alert signalling children who are at high risk, for instance from parental abduction;
- an automatic alert to all national authorities when an entry ban is issued by one member state;
- a new alert system for so-called 'unknown wanted persons', to help enforcement bodies to access SIS information on individuals whose fingerprints are found on a crime scene;
- compulsory sharing of data on fingerprints, palm prints, facial images and DNA with all national law-enforcement authorities.
Now, identity checks in the SIS are based on alphanumerical searching (name and date of birth) and fingerprints can only be used to verify and confirm the identity of someone who has already been identified by name.
Information-sharing on the return of irregular migrants
To help enforce decisions by a member state on returning an illegally staying non-EU national to his or her country of origin, MEPs also approved:
- an obligation for member states to enter into the SIS all return decisions issued;
- a new alert system will inform national bodies whether the period for ‘leaving voluntarily’, during which the person is asked to leave the EU, has expired;
- a requirement for national authorities to inform the member state that launched the alert that a non-EU national has left the EU.
Currently, there is no system in place to automatically provide information on return decisions, which are now shared on a voluntary basis.
Rapporteur Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT): “SIS is the biggest, most used, best-implemented database in the area of freedom, security and justice. But we need to prepare it for the future. We want terrorism alerts to be mandatory and supplementary information to be available immediately. We want SIS to help children at risk, namely of parental abduction. We need it to be robust and effective, including at hotspots. SIS can deliver more security to our citizens now, so we also want these changes to be on the ground, at the latest, one year after their approval. “
Rapporteur Jeroen Lenaers (EPP, NL): “In 2016, only 46% of people required to leave the EU were returned to their home countries. If we are not able to increase the efficiency with which we are able to enforce returns of persons who do not have the right to stay in the Member States, it will be difficult to maintain support among our citizens for the Common European Asylum System. The reformed Schengen Information System will guarantee that once a decision on the return of an illegally staying person is issued by competent authorities in one Member State, this information is available to other Member States if the illegally staying person absconds to one of those Member States”.
The negotiating mandate to start talks with EU Ministers to reach an agreement on the new legislation still needs approval from the full House.
The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a centralised, large-scale information system that supports border controls at the external Schengen borders and law enforcement and judicial cooperation in 29 countries throughout Europe. The Schengen Information System was set up in 1995 to contribute to maintaining internal security and fighting cross border crime and irregular migration following the abolition of internal border controls.
SIS II was established in 2006 and become operational in 2013. In December 2016, the European Commission proposed a legislative package to reform SIS II.