Standardisation of External Border Security for the Schengen States Continues

With the Schengen Accord, the free movement of persons was won as a major, visible accomplishment for citizens as border controls between the member states were eliminated. Now the standardised exchange of information at the external borders of the Schengen contract territory is intended to compensate for the possible loss of security due to the elimination of internal borders. This will be accomplished with the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is now being implemented in its second generation.

The former version of the Schengen Information System to protect the external borders of the Schengen states has been integrated in the successor system SIS II in the meantime. Effective 9 May 2013, the European Large Information Systems Agency (eu-LISA) will be responsible for the host system.

The European Commission provided close to EUR 168 million for SIS II from the year 2002 until February 2013. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, explained: "I am pleased that SIS II can go live. Now we can tackle the implementation phase, which is the responsibility of the new agency eu-LISA." Krum Garkov, Executive Director of the European Large Information Systems Agency (eu-LISA): "We are ready for SIS II operations management. By working closely with the Commission and the member states, we will ensure a smooth transition of system management while providing services to the member states around the clock and contributing to enhanced security in Europe."

The shared information system consists of a central IT system, the national IT systems and the infrastructure to exchange information between the systems. Protecting data privacy will be taken into account by limiting data access to the national border control, customs, police, justice, visa and motor vehicle registration authorities. In addition, every citizen has a right to information about his or her data stored in SIS II, which can be obtained from the respective national authorities. Legal action is an option in order to assert the right to information, data deletion or correction.

From a technical perspective, SIS II offers more options for the national security agencies than the previous system. For example, European arrest warrants, missing person reports, information about stolen identification papers and missing vehicles of all kinds, and now also biometric data can be stored for all participating authorities in the Schengen states. These data can also be linked to each other. For example, a search for a person can easily be posted in conjunction with a search for a vehicle.


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