Improving control of EU's borders
Maria Koleva, Brussels
10 November, 2017
Three regulations that update the Schengen Information System, so-called SIS II, and will facilitate the control of the EU’s external borders, were adopted by the members of EP LIBE Committee at their sitting on 6 November. Strengthening the use of fingerprints and facial images, together with a new alert system for cases related to terrorism will beef up SIS and will concretely help for swiftly sharing information on criminal offences and irregular migration between national judicial and police authorities, and thus will make more effective the combat against terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration.
The new regulations set an obligation for a Member State to swiftly share details of a terrorist act with all other Member States and a preventive alert signalling for children who are at high risk. All national authorities will be automatically alerted when an entry ban is issued by one Member State. Also a new alert system for so-called ‘unknown wanted persons’ will make easier for the enforcement bodies to access SIS information on individuals whose fingerprints are found on a crime whereabouts. MEPs also introduced compulsory sharing of data on fingerprints, palm prints, facial images and DNA with all national law-enforcement authorities. This will change the way identity checks in the SIS are carried out. Currently such checks are made by searching name and date of birth, and only to verify and confirm the identity of someone already appeared by name or used fingerprints.
The Schengen Information System can provide more security to EU citizens and it can do so in the short term, underlined Carlos Coelho, Portuguese EPP MEP, who is rapporteur for the SIS. This system is an essential tool to better secure the borders and to fight and prevent crime in the EU, he noted. According to him, the greater access of Europol to the database will also guarantee a coordinated action in preventing, investigating and prosecuting terrorist activities.
Commenting on the suggested improvements with regard to the legislation which will allow for the use of the SIS for returns of illegally-staying persons, its rapporteur Dutch EPP MEP Jeroen Lenaers stated that in 2016, only 46% of people required to leave the EU were returned to their home countries. He asserted that the new rules will guarantee that once a decision on the return of an illegally-staying person is issued by the competent authorities in one Member State, this information is available to other EU countries in case this person absconds in one of them.