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Debates
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

15. Possible delays to the start of the operation of SIS II (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. - The next item is the Council and Commission statements on possible delays to the start of the operation of SIS II [2012/2885(RSP)].

 
  
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  Loucas Louca, President-in-Office of the Council. (EL). Mr President, the second-generation Schengen information system (SIS II) is a basic tool for the security of the European area without internal border checks, and is one of the most tangible and significant achievements of European integration. SIS II will replace the existing system, which is able to serve the needs of a limited number of Member States and respond to a limited number of demands. Improved technology will give the new Schengen information system new functions and will enable it to meet a greater number of requests, thus strengthening the security of the Schengen area and its citizens.

In May 2012, the Commission presented its proposal for revision of the two existing legal acts governing the transition from Schengen Ι+ to the new SIS II. The Presidency, aware that this is a necessary step in the transition process, has worked intensively to move things forward quickly, with a view to reaching an agreement on the text of the proposal. The discussion on the Council’s proposal resulted in a change to the legal structure of the Commission’s original proposal, in order to bring it into line with the standard policy which is followed for legal proposals in which Ireland and the United Kingdom are participating, and in order to ensure a more transparent procedure.

The Presidency expresses its thanks to the rapporteur and the European Parliament for all the efforts they have made to ensure prompt adoption of the reports on the proposals; this in turn enables the Council to proceed with the final adoption of the proposals. As you will have noticed, more generally, the Commission has taken responsibility for developing and completing SIS II, and the deadline for the operational launch of the system is still the end of the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest overall schedule drawn up by the Commission. The adoption of the legal proposals governing the transition will constitute a further substantial step towards achieving the aim of launching the operation of SIS II in the first quarter of 2013. This also means that both the central system and all the national systems will need to be in place during that period. The Commission regularly updates the Council on the progress of SIS II, and a further update is expected at the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 6 and 7 December. I hope that by then it will have become clear whether the aim of completing the system around the end of March 2013 remains feasible.

 
  
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  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. − Mr President, SIS II is a major milestone in the completion of the area of freedom, security and justice. I look forward to what I hope will be a positive vote tomorrow on the migration instrument recast proposal. This is essential in laying down both the migration procedure and the underlying legal framework, and is indispensable for SIS II to become operational.

I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Coelho, and the Civil Liberties Committee for their constructive spirit and cooperation throughout the procedure. The Commission aims to guarantee the highest level of data protection throughout the migration. The proposal by the European Parliament in this area provides further clarity and can, therefore, be strongly supported by the Commission.

The Commission regards data cleansing as a priority and has on several occasions made Member States aware of the crucial importance of this issue in order to avoid substantial numbers of rejected alerts by the new system. On this basis, the Commission can also support the relevant amendments put forward in the reports.

In order to enhance transparency, the Commission is ready to provide the European Parliament with information about the testing activities laid down in the proposal as well as about the completion of the migration. Under Article 18 of the migration instruments, the Commission will deliver progress reports to the European Parliament and to the Council every six months concerning the technical development of SIS II and migration-related activities.

However, the Commission cannot support the inclusion of requirements obliging Member States to delete non-migrated data, as these data are subject to national law and the supervision of the national data protection authorities in accordance with the Schengen Convention.

Undeniable progress has been made in the SIS II project over the last two years at both central and national level. The Commission has already informed the Parliament of the successful completion of the Milestone 2 test earlier this year and of the very good performance of the central system and most national systems during the last round of testing, known as the comprehensive test. So I would like to underline the fact that we are actually very close to completion.

This is unfortunately not the case for Finland, where there has been a slight delay in completing its national system. The Finnish authorities notified the Commission of this in late October in a letter from the Finnish Interior Minister. Commissioner Malmström raised this issue as an urgent matter for Finland to address at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council a few days later.

Immediately after the JHA Council, the Commission organised a fact-finding mission to Finland to assess the extent of the difficulties encountered by their national project. A number of risk mitigation actions were agreed with Finland, which could, alongside the assistance that will be provided to their experts, minimise the impact on the overall project schedule but cannot prevent some delay.

The Commission’s services are analysing in detail the implications of the problem encountered by Finland. On the basis of the detailed information requested from Finland on its remedial action plan, the Commission’s intention is to present a new timetable to the December JHA Council on 6 and 7 December 2012 and, of course, to inform the Parliament at the same time.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho, on behalf of the PPE Group. (PT) Mr President, President-in-Office of the Council, Vice-President of the Commission, we agree that the Schengen Information System (SIS) is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen area. We consider it to be the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice.

For several years the European Parliament has advocated a clear Community solution, rejecting the continuation of an intergovernmental set-up. That is one of the reasons why we have always supported SIS II. However, besides this, in an enlarged Europe of 27 Member States, we need the increased security that SIS II provides, in guaranteeing stricter border controls by introducing biometric data, and allowing for more efficient use of data through the possibilities offered by such interconnection.

SIS II will also provide a more stringent level of data protection than that which currently exists in SIS I.

The reports that we will vote on tomorrow allow us to clarify the legal framework applicable to the migration from SIS I to SIS II, enabling the legal framework for SIS II to enter into force and be applied from the moment the first Member State carries out this transfer.

Given the political importance of this dossier, as well as its budget, the Parliament, despite deploring the fact that it was only consulted, but to avoid further delays, approved the proposals, proposing changes to strengthen the rules on data protection, guarantee effective supervision and enable the Member States requiring this still to take advantage of the existing budget line for 2012.

We should now be highlighting the fact that, finally, after so many years, the end is in sight – since it was expected that the new system could start in January and that SIS II would be operational from April. However, as incredible as it may seem, we have been faced with a further delay, in a system that should already have been operational since 2007. This time it is not the fault of the European Commission, but rather the Member States – the Member States that have always criticised the Commission over the last few years for having caused delays and having spent a lot of money on this project. As the Vice-President of the Commission has already stated, it was Finland. After all, Parliament was right to reject the proposal to withdraw any reference to the date for the entry into force of the system.

I call on the Member States, and in particular Finland, to discharge their responsibilities in this process and avoid SIS II having to suffer yet another delay. And I ask the Council and the Commission what they intend to do to address this additional setback, so as to ensure that SIS II enters into force as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (RO) Mr President, the reports which we are debating this evening on migration to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) were adopted by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs by way of a simplified procedure in order to make both the legal instruments and the funds necessary for the switchover to the new SIS generation available to the Commission and the Member States as quickly as possible. Sadly, this spirit of good faith and good cooperation on the part of Parliament stands in stark contrast with the attitude of certain Member States which say that they are disinterested in the success of SIS II.

I sincerely share with you my personal frustration and that of the European Parliament as a whole at this never-ending problem which is the Schengen Information System II. It is already ridiculous that an information system, even a complex one, should take more than 12 years to be developed and implemented, and even now the Member States and the Commission are unable to fulfil their commitments and are repeating past mistakes.

We have, in this case, a worrying lack of responsibility on the part of both Finland, which is showing a lack of interest in carrying out some simple tests, and the Commission. The basic precondition imposed on the Commission by Parliament for the disbursement of funds for the development of SIS II was the Commission’s commitment to comply with and carefully supervise the migration process. Unfortunately, I see that the Commission has not lived up to this commitment. All of these things once again highlight the reasons why the whole management of the Schengen Area needs to be changed and Europeanised.

If we had an efficient Union evaluation mechanism, all of these delays could have been avoided and action could have been taken to correct such problems as Finland’s far more promptly. Finally, I wish to point out the irony of the situation of Romania and Bulgaria, candidate countries which, although they meet all of the requirements of the acquis for access to the Schengen Area, have not been allowed to join, yet an old Schengen Member State is having serious problems in complying with the acquis.

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, oh dear, SIS II has been hit by the curse of large IT projects, especially in the field of home affairs!

We are rather familiar with this in the UK, but another thing we are getting familiar with in the UK is the desire of europhobes – and we might hear from one shortly – to opt out of key EU justice and home affairs measures. What a mistake that would be! I look forward to the UK finally taking part in the Schengen Information System.

I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Coelho, not only for all his work on Schengen on this particular dossier but also for his flexibility when the Council proposed having a separate legal instrument to ensure the participation of the UK and Ireland in the policing aspects of the SIS. They cannot, of course, take part in the immigration and border control parts of the system, but I am pleased to say that the UK is keen to be involved in the policing aspects. It would have been great had this measure been ready before the London Olympics as there was some concern that the fact of the UK not yet being hooked up would make it difficult to identify criminals or terrorists. I am glad to say we had a safe London Olympics, but nonetheless it was a pity that the deadline was missed.

The UK has been preparing for a number of years to connect to SIS II. It is responsible for 18% of the total charge to the EU budget as well as the domestic costs. The consequences of opting out of SIS II are obvious: the UK would not only lose its considerable investment but would also be unable to make use of a system that has proved a very valuable law-enforcement tool.

Without access to SIS II, the UK would not have access to alerts issued by other Member States in order, for example, to locate and apprehend criminals who escape into the UK from one of the other Schengen countries. Neither could the UK issue a SIS alert in order to locate a suspect who had left the UK, or a car stolen in the UK and driven abroad. While the UK authorities could still request assistance from other Member States’ authorities on an ad hoc basis, this would be much slower and more cumbersome than the automated and immediate exchange through SIS II.

I cannot understand those British politicians and their hangers-on who want the UK to opt out of this means to keep the British people safe and secure.

 
  
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  Tatjana Ždanoka, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, first of all I want to congratulate our rapporteur, Mr Coelho, on his significant work on the reports concerning the transition to SIS II and I wish him further success on the file. As you may know, our Verts/ALE Group is extremely cautious about biometrics in all files and since SIS II introduces the processing of biometric data, we have consistently expressed our awareness of data protection. We are now glad that our concerns on data protection and on the necessity of the final deadline are being fully taken into account. Therefore, our group can support the initiative as we did in September 2008 when we supported migration instruments, and in May 2010 when the current migration instruments were being amended. Nevertheless, we do not think that splitting the proposal into two almost identical documents is the best solution from the point of view of the simplification of legislation, but as it has already been decided we will however support it.

We do not understand the concern of the Commission regarding the proposal from the European Data Protection Supervisor and then from the rapporteur on the deletion of non-protected data. We do not think this is a problem. We also fully support the rapporteur on maintaining the deadline for transition in the migration instrument at the end of June 2013. We have heard from the Council about the first half of 2013, but if we have this date in the report then we are sure that if once again we have problems with the transition to SIS II then another solution has to be found.

 
  
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  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, of course SIS is an international police database system but also associated with this is an EU police organisation called SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at National Entry). Now this is a little known organisation and it has been described by some of its operatives as top secret. It has executive powers and although Britain is not yet a member of the Schengen Group, the UK is expected to joint SIRENE in 2013. It already has officers working within Member States’ police forces and our German SIRENE officer is attached to the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and his name is Jan-Per Ruehmann. Under Schengen an alert placed on an SIS database should be treated as a European Arrest Warrant. Therefore within the Schengen area, at least, extradition may now simply be on the basis of the hit on a database. European Arrest Warrants will rise sharply after we join SIS in 2013. If I may conclude: the noble Baroness Ludford referred to a europhobe, possibly myself. I do not hate Europe. I love Europe; I dislike the European Union and what I love most are the ancient liberties of my countrymen which I want to preserve.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (FR) Mr President, the SIS II is a well-worn subject. We have lost count of the delays; perhaps we should remember that the initial decision dates back to 2001. I will say that in a way, I am glad of all these delays. On the other hand, I am not pleased that we have lost count of the increases in loans voted in favour of this white elephant, because we know the Commission to be much more concerned about the correct use of loans on a certain number of dossiers.

For my part, I am not glad about the future implementation of generalised information systems. We all know that in all the Member States, there are some slip-ups concerning the protection of our fellow citizens’ data contained in these files. The European Parliament had to fight hard to be informed, and also for the comments of the European Data Protection Supervisor to be at least partly incorporated, but that does not really reassure me. There cannot be security for citizens if this concept is not understood in all accepted meanings of the term and if fundamental freedoms are not truly protected.

We are therefore still fundamentally opposed to this unequivocal vision of security. We oppose this security-conscious Europe. The block we are witnessing concerning data deletion is unfortunately simply an example of what we do not want.

We will vote against this report, not because we oppose the efforts of our rapporteur, whom I take this opportunity to congratulate, but because we oppose this method of generalised filing of citizens, which does not take sufficient account of data protection.

 
  
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  Hubert Pirker (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, Council representatives, unlike the speaker before me, I am an enthusiastic advocate of the Schengen Information System for several reasons.

Firstly, we know that, as an investigative facility, the Schengen Information System represents a real success story in the area of security. This has been proven.

Secondly, it is also a success story in connection with our open internal borders and freedom of travel. After all, it is Schengen that forms the very basis for this. Consequently, the system is a real success story for Europe in two senses.

If we now consider the second-generation Schengen Information System, we can see further progress, further development – on the one hand, because biometric data are also now entered into this system and, on the other, because it offers multiple and improved data links – this too is in the interests of security – and because it also offers greater data security. All in all it is a very positive development. Previously it looked as if Schengen II would become a real never-ending story. Now it looks as though we are hopefully reaching a conclusion and the data transfer can begin, with SIS II being fully available in the interests of the security of European citizens by the middle of next year. I hope that the Commission will do everything in its power to ensure that SIS II really will be available, as promised, next summer.

I would also like to thank Mr Coelho, who once again has produced some excellent work in connection with Schengen and who has contributed to Schengen being a security success for the citizens of Europe.

 
  
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  Kinga Göncz (S&D).(HU) Mr President, let me start with a little historical reminder. When we were planning for the nine new Member States to join the Schengen Area we were told by the Council that this could not take place as originally planned because SIS II had not yet been completed. Back then, they said we would have to wait another few months. That was in early 2007. Thanks to the Portuguese Presidency the accession was finally achieved in December 2007. We are now about five years down the line and we are still waiting for SIS II. There have been many promises. Hopefully this latest promise will be the last. At the time we argued that Schengen was not a technical issue but a political issue. It is based on trust between Member States and reinforces that trust. It is one of the most important parts of the single market. Rolling out SIS II represents progress in areas where there is a real need for it. It enhances the security of the area, improves data protection, asserts fundamental rights and helps the EU to make decisions in this domain. We sincerely hope that it will also finally help to complete the very long Schengen accession process for Romania and Bulgaria. It was the commitment of the Portuguese Presidency that helped the last round of countries joining the Schengen area. Now once more we are in need of a committed stance from the Commission and firm support from the Council.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). - (SK) Mr President, the effectiveness of the first legislative package of 2001, under which the Commission will prepare the migration of the current Schengen Information System to a more modern, faster and more efficient system, was due to expire on 31 December 2006.

The gradual and repeated delays of the launch of the immediate introduction of SIS II shows the complexity of a safe and smooth transition between generationally markedly different systems. During the very long period spent addressing the technical aspects of the migration between the old and the new system, a fundamental change in the legal framework occurred in the EU, and it seems that this brought about the necessity to modify Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 by integrating the relevant provisions of Article 92 of the Schengen Convention. Those Member States which wish to have full use of the new SIS II technology have the right to insist upon any relevant legislative changes that will allow them to legally switch from the old system to the new.

I therefore believe, Commissioner, that it is very important to take all necessary steps in order to harmonise the legislative framework as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL). - (EL). Mr President, the technical stipulations set out in the report conceal an even more stifling restriction of democratic rights by the European Union: complete scrutiny and monitoring, and more efficient placing of personal data in databases, in particular data on workers’ social action.

For many years now, as we know, the European Union has been creating an unprecedented network of mechanisms of repression, monitoring and persecution, such as the Euro-Police, Eurojust, Frontex, anti-terrorist legislation, harmonisation of criminal law, a system for monitoring the external borders, and the strengthening of police and judicial cooperation. The repressive mechanisms of all kinds require more technically advanced databases and methods of collecting and exchanging information. This greater capacity to make use of databases now serves the new second-generation Schengen information system. SIS ΙΙ even overrules the fine words about protection of personal data, because it gives the right to record personal data, including biometric data, and to apply discriminatory surveillance to any person who, in the arbitrary judgment of the repressive mechanisms, is considered guilty of punishable acts.

The amendments to the European Parliament report, regarding data accuracy and so-called supervision by the European Data Protection Supervisor and national supervisory authorities, are intended to conceal an orgy – no less – of using databases at EU and national level. The European Union’s much-vaunted area of freedom and security conceals the nightmare reality of an area where basic human rights and fundamental freedoms are suppressed, an area that gives free rein to the repressive mechanisms to protect the power of the monopolies against the people’s resistance and against the struggles of the popular movement.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE). - (EL). Mr President, please allow me, in turn, to thank our rapporteur, Mr Coelho, for his excellent work on Schengen and, of course, to thank him for his flexibility on this particular issue regarding the new second-generation information system. For more than 11 years in Europe we have been discussing – because that is really how long this discussion has taken – the question of when we will manage to complete SIS II, and we are here today in this Chamber to talk once again about some possible delays. You know, in my country, Greece, we have a legend that became a folk song, about the Bridge of Arta, which kept falling down. ‘All day they were building it, and at night it tumbled down,’ goes the song. This is reminiscent of implementing the information system. Every time this issue comes before our committee or the Plenary, we are sure we have ‘fixed it’ and that this time will be the last, and then here we are again to discuss it once more.

Of course there are security issues which we must solve. Of course there is the question of the registration, management and protection of personal data, which we must certainly safeguard. These are very serious issues but, from a technical point of view, the new technologies can now give us immediate solutions. To solve the problem, the bridge was finally made to stand firm at the expense of sacrificing the head builder’s wife. I hope in our case we will not need to make any sacrifice at the European Union’s expense, other than the time that has already been wasted and the additional expense that has ended up being required.

SIS II is a system which we all need for our security. SIS II is a system which must be implemented immediately. We have the technicians and we therefore have the ability to create this bridge for the further development of Schengen.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D). - Mr President, let me congratulate Mr Coelho on a fantastic report but there are real concerns about the lack of transparency in the decision-making process. If you shut out Parliament then potentially you lose our support and mistrust will only grow. Also, we need to explain to our citizens the double standards that Romanians and Bulgarians will face when they approach the Schengen border controls.

I also want to say to my own government, the UK Government, that it is extremely important that they remain involved in the negotiations. The UK is not a member of Schengen, but it is part of SIS for use for law enforcement purposes, and therefore it is crucial for the UK Government to support the swift migration from SIS I to SIS II. It is to the advantage of all our citizens in the EU and that includes citizens of the United Kingdom. I do not support, as the coalition government does and particularly the Conservative party, opt-outs from JHA, including potential opt-outs from Schengen. It will be hugely disadvantageous to the citizens of the United Kingdom and not in our national interest. Therefore, I urge all of those concerned to bring a swift resolution to this situation which has gone on for far too long.

 
  
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  Iliana Malinova Iotova (S&D).(BG) Mr President, SIS is the most important database for ensuring public security and assisting police and judicial cooperation. Today we hear that it is still riddled with problems. There are problems with Finland, but there is another paradoxical situation of no less significance. Two years ago Bulgaria and Romania became part of SIS 1. Tests were carried out with positive results for moving onto SIS II. At the same time, the two countries still remain outside the Schengen area. Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that Bulgaria is an external border of the European Union. Remaining outside the Schengen area automatically limits the Bulgarian authorities in their processing of data of persons from third countries, and there is pressure particularly from our southern neighbours. This makes the work of SIS II ineffective in terms of European security. Once again, I urge the European Commission and the Council to exercise their power and admit Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area. I trust that a positive solution for both countries will be found before the final implementation of SIS II in 2013. I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Coelho, in particular for his consistent stance on this issue.

 
  
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  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. − Mr President, I thank Members for all their comments. I assure you that I have taken good note of the concerns expressed in the debate, and I can tell you that the Commission shares many of them.

Despite the delay, we are very, very close to completion of the SIS II project. The Central System amply proved its robustness to the satisfaction of the vast majority of the Member States, and the project has now reached the point of no return.

The objective of bringing the system into operation as soon as possible remains, therefore, an imperative which must not be compromised. Experience shows that this is only possible through overall constructive cooperation and solidarity promoted by all the stakeholders. The Commission is further ready to provide any possible support needed to overcome all the remaining challenges. The added value that SIS II will bring to our common area of freedom and security merits our utmost engagement to ensure the final delivery.

Many of your comments and worries have centred on the fact that we witnessed a delay in the readiness of Finland, and Baroness Ludford asked why the problem had not been detected earlier. Here I would like to emphasise that the monitoring system for national development, namely the SIS II Task Force, was put in place by the Council some time ago but it obviously failed to detect the technical issues arising in Finland. As you know, the Member States bear full responsibility for the system at their level, and given that Finland did not volunteer for an earlier testing campaign, the national issues there were revealed only in the last round of tests, which were mandatory for all Member States.

At the same time, I believe this is still an issue which we can solve together because now we have cooperation with Finland, and the Commission and the other Member States are making efforts to assist as much as possible. I believe that, with all the other Member States, the migration will start as planned in January, and Finland will join these efforts once it is ready.

Concerning the complete switchover, we have to wait until the whole system is ready, but I believe that we are really very close to that point and we will do our utmost to have a clear answer for you after thorough examination of the issue and the discussion among the Interior Ministers on 5 and 6 December at the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.

In relation to Ms Vergiat’s concerns about data protection, it has to be emphasised that SIS II is a very important and robust EU instrument. It increases the functionality, capacity and performance of the system and it also improves governance and accountability, through greater safeguards on data protection. So I believe that, once the system is in place and operational, we will all benefit from the high quality of reliable services and the new information which we will be able to obtain, and I think it will further improve the way we actually use the freedoms we have as citizens, including freedom of travel.

 
  
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  Loucas Louca, President-in-Office of the Council. (EL). Mr President, I would like to begin with the question of applying the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Romania and Bulgaria. The Presidency remains fully committed to the successful enlargement of the Schengen area and continues to work towards this goal. The issue was on the agenda of the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 October, when the Presidency gave Member States a progress report on the efforts towards full implementation of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania. After negotiation with all the parties concerned, the Presidency announced that unfortunately the unanimous vote necessary for taking the relevant Council decision could not be achieved at that stage. The Presidency also provided all the representations with an overview of implementation of the predetermined measures aimed at contributing to the successful enlargement of the Schengen area. The Presidency hopes that on this basis, the enlargement of the Schengen area can be achieved in the near future. As regards the delay in the schedule for implementing the work, there are speculations, on the basis of certain signs, that the national system of one Member State will not be ready in good time before the end of March. Of course, this has not yet been confirmed, and it would thus be premature to make any statement on the exact conclusions which can be drawn from the attempt to overcome these problems. As I have said, the Commission will update the Council on this in December, and I hope we will then have a better and clearer picture of the situation. Similar problems and delays have arisen in the past. Fortunately, we are at the stage of final completion of the work. My own assessment is that any delay occurring as a result of the latest developments will be very brief. Mr President, the Presidency wishes to express, once again, its gratitude for the efforts made by the European Parliament to achieve rapid adoption of the reports which will be taken into account by the Council in the final settlement of the issue. As regards any concerns about the progress in the completion of SIS II, the Presidency will continue to monitor developments closely and will be in close contact with all the parties involved, in an effort to minimise any problems which may adversely affect the prompt completion of the work.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing.(RO) The switchover to the second generation Schengen Information System will help to increase security at external borders. The SIS is considered to be the backbone of the area of freedom, security and justice. SIS II will make it possible to add biometric data and new functions which can increase security within the Union and can lead to more intelligent use of the information transmitted within the system.

Romania has adopted all of the technical measures for the implementation of the Schengen Information System, and is ready to be connected to the system. The evaluation missions conducted in my country have certified this fact. In addition, Romania has met all of the criteria for accession to the Schengen Area and has completed their technical implementation. This fact was acknowledged by the Justice and Home Affairs Council in June 2011 and by the resolution adopted by the European Parliament in October 2011, but the adoption of a decision has been blocked in Council, and the reasons for the blockage are not connected with Romania’s preparations to enter the Schengen Area. I believe that such an attitude is not constructive and does not encourage cooperation within the Union. For that reason, I once again appeal for the situation to be resolved and for a decision to admit Romania to the Schengen Area to be adopted.

 
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