The Schengen Information System is being reinforced to deliver more security to Europeans. Discover the improvements in our infographics.
On Wednesday 24 October, MEPs approved new rules to improve external border management and preserve internal security in 30 European countries and vote on them the following day. The measures to strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS) database also aim to step up the EU's fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration.
- A centralised, large-scale information database that supports external border control and law-enforcement cooperation
Stronger external borders
In recent years, the EU's external borders have come under strain and some countries reintroduced internal border controls in response to terrorist attacks in Europe and the influx of refugees into the EU in 2015.
To ensure the survival of the Schengen border-free area and strengthen the common external border, the European Commission put forward a package of three legislative proposals in December 2016 with the aim of revising the legal framework of SIS.
“SIS will remain the biggest, most used, best-implemented database in the area of freedom, security and justice, while delivering more security to our citizens,” said Portuguese EPP member Carlos Coelho, the MEP in charge.
To help tackle irregular migration, the system will boost the exchange of information and include alerts on non-EU nationals subject to a return decision.
“Member states at the moment don’t exchange information on whether a third country national has received a return decision or not. Due to this lack of information exchange, a third country national with the obligation to return can easily avoid this obligation, by going to another member state,” said Dutch EPP member Jeroen Lenaers, the other MEP in charge of steering the plans through Parliament.
Member states will now be obliged to share the details of terrorist acts with all member states and must also create alerts on terrorism and exchange information.
There will be new preventive alerts regarding children at risk of violence, forced marriage or parental abduction, as well as alerts to identify criminals and an increased use of biometrics.
There will be stronger data protection rules, including more means and supervision by data protection authorities.
SIS was established in 1990 after internal borders were abolished in the Schengen area. The current form (known as “SIS II”) was adopted in 2006 and became operational in 2013.
The new rules were already agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators in June, but will still need formal approval by the Council before they can enter into force.