Enhanced information systems will not resemble 'Big Brother'
The Commission wants to close the gaps in the information architecture in Europe
Maria Koleva, Brussels
8 September, 2017
Photo: © European Parliament
LIBE Committee MEPs held on 4 September a discussion on counter-terrorism and the need to improve the exchange of information among Member States.
Modern interoperability that will ensure timely information exchange between the EU countries, EU agencies, law enforcement, border guards, intelligence services, will become a reality by 2020. Eu-LISA, Tallinn-based EU agency responsible for managing IT systems in the area of security and justice, such as Schengen and asylum-seekers databases, will deliver the technical solutions to make it happen. This became clear at the discussion on counter-terrorism and the need to improve the exchange of information among Member States, held on 4 September by the LIBE Committee MEPs with Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship and Krum Garkov, executive director of eu-LISA.
We need to build an environment of trust and ask from our Member States to demonstrate this trust, Commissioner Avramopoulos stated, asserting that “without this element we will never achieve a genuine and effective Security Union.”
According to him, the EU already has a range of instruments and information-sharing systems, such as the Schengen and Visa Information Systems, Eurodac, Europol's systems, Prum, among others, which are at the disposal of the security, border and migration authorities. “We want to better use the systems that we have, and to close the gaps that we see in our information architecture in Europe,” he explained.
Commissioner Avramopoulos also told MEPs that the co-existence of the existing and proposed systems is not enough, and asked “What is the usefulness of all these systems if they are isolated silos, which do not speak to each other?”
In late June, the Commission tabled a proposal for strengthening the mandate of the eu-LISA agency that precisely has to make the EU information systems interoperable, and suggested further improvements to the European Criminal Records Information System that will enhance the exchange between EU countries of non-EU citizens’ criminal records. By December this year, the EU executive will put a proposal for achieving interoperability of the information systems. The commissioner underlined that eu-LISA will be a cornerstone of the work on interoperability. He also praised eu-LISA for the excellent work done so far. In his statement he urged that the intention is not to build “Big Brother” or proliferation of information systems.
On his part, eu-LISA Executive Director Krum Garkov assured the LIBE Committee members that interoperability in itself is not a threat to fundamental rights, but on the contrary, it provides additional safeguards and strengthens the existing ones for privacy and data protection. It’s not about merging databases, it’s about efficient use of data collected, he clarified. He pointed out that with interoperability it would not be possible for one person to have multiple identities in different databases, as it was the case with the attacker in Berlin last Christmas, who had 14 identities in different databases.