European policy makers have agreed to connect a sweeping array of currently siloed border security systems, creating a common identity repository, a Europe-wide document search portal for border security and a biometric matching system.
The European Parliament and European Council on Tuesday backed Commission proposals, first mooted in 2017, to link three existing systems and three planned systems in a measure that they believe will close “important security gaps.”
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we deliver on a quintessential piece of our security infrastructure.”
“In the future, all the dots between our different information systems will be interlinked. This is the European Union at its best: empowering and supporting our border guards and police officers with the right tools to do their job and protect European citizens.”
Roll-out will create a European search portal that lets border guards and police carry out simultaneous checks of identity documents against all EU information systems on a single screen, instead of verifying documents against multiple databases.
It will also create shared biometric matching service, which will use fingerprints and facial images to search across existing information systems, and a common identity repository, which will store biographical data of non-EU citizens.
EU Border Security: Which Systems Are Being Connected?
The Commission’s proposals will see three existing systems connected:
1) The Schengen Information System (SIS) – a database spanning information on both people and objects spanning criminal activity, terrorism and missing persons;
2) Eurodac – a fingerprint database of asylum applicants and third-country nationals irregularly crossing EU borders or irregularly staying in the EU.
3) Visa Information System (VIS) information on short-stay visas.
It will also connect three systems proposed by the Commission:
1) Entry/Exit System [pdf] (EES) – an electronic register of entry and exit information of third-country nationals crossing EU borders.
2) European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – pre-travel security and irregular migration screening of visa-exempt non-EU nationals.
3) European Criminal Record Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) system for
exchanging information on non-EU nationals convicted in the European Union.
What Happens Next?
With political agreement secured, the European Commission’s two regulations for the interoperability of EU information systems now need to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.
Once adopted, eu-LISA, the EU Agency responsible for the operational management of large-scale information systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, will be responsible for the development and the roll-out of the technical components that will make EU information systems interoperable.
Commenting in 2017 when the measures were first proposed first Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that: “Speed counts when it comes to protecting our citizens against terrorism and saving lives. At this moment our EU information systems for security and border management are working separately which slows down law enforcement. With our proposal they will become fully interoperable.”
Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King commented in today’s announcement that: “This is about responding to calls from those at the frontline, police and border guards. It is not about creating one big database or collecting more data, but using existing information in a smarter and more targeted way to help law enforcement do their job, all while fully respecting fundamental rights.”