Brussels, 1st June 2005
The Commission has today tabled three proposals for establishing the Second generation of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) which will replace the current SIS. The SIS II will enable new Member States to fully participate in the Schengen area so that travellers will no longer have to undergo checks at the borders between new Member States and their other EU partners. The SIS II will also assist the law enforcement community in its efforts to cope with the important security challenges that the EU faces today, while its legal framework will guarantee a high level of protection for the individual whose data will be stored in the system.
The Vice President of the Commission, Franco Frattini, underlined that “the main beneficiaries of these proposals will be the new Member States who will be part of the Schengen area of free movement without internal border control. This will be to the benefit of all EU citizens who will be able to travel within the wider Schengen Area enjoying an increased level of security and without being subject to border checks”.
The setting up of the SIS II is one of the main conditions for allowing the new Member States to fully apply the Schengen Acquis from 2007 and lift their internal border controls after a positive Schengen evaluation. However, the SIS II will not only be used in the context of policies linked to the movement of persons (e.g. external border controls and visa policy). It is also an essential tool for supporting police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. For instance, the SIS II will ensure the immediate dissemination of the European Arrest Warrant issued by a Member State right across Europe. The creation of an area where people can circulate freely should never represent a loss in terms of security for the Member States.
The main objective of SIS II is to establish the means of exchanging information with the new Member States, but the system has also been designed to offer a more flexible technical infrastructure and better ways of guaranteeing identification than the current SIS. For example, the new SIS will be able to store fingerprints and facial images for verifying the identity of a person and thus address the problems of misidentifications made by the current system. In addition, the SIS II will have the ability to cope with evolving users’ requirements which is simply a reflection of the changing political environment in which the SIS operates. The Commission, however, has taken the utmost care that this more performing system is flanked by a solid legal framework, which clearly lays down how it will be used. The new legal framework will therefore provide increased transparency on all SIS II activities and will also reinforce the rights of individuals providing a comprehensive set of safeguards. Finally, the proposals tabled today will allow a proper democratic debate involving all EU institutions in the conception of the SIS II.