Europe’s most shared information security system and database is the SIS (Schengen Information System). At present, the SIS contains approximately 79 million records and statistics show that it was consulted over 5 billion times in 2017. The SIS will be used as a key security system for the ETIAS visa waiver.
A comprehensive evaluation carried out in 2016 enabled the European Commission to identify where improvements (both technical and operational) could be made in the SIS. As a consequence, legislative proposals set out in 2016 have been able to be adopted and new rules proposed by the European Commission have now come into force in order to strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS).
What Is the SIS?
The SIS (Schengen Information System) is a centralized information system used by member states of the EU in order to support, improve and monitor law enforcement, migration, judicial cooperation and border control in Europe. It is operated as a security system and database throughout 30 countries in Europe.
The SIS is used as a security system to both protect and prevent; information is provided on individuals sought in relation to terrorist or criminal activities, those who do not have the right to enter the Schengen area and those who need help, such as people in need of protection or missing persons. The SIS is also used for identity documents, as well as stolen or lost objects, such as documents, boats, cars or firearms.
The information and security system aids those working to monitor European border crossings, support police, and law enforcement, and protect Europe as a whole against terrorism and criminals. It also offers protection for vulnerable adults and missing children.
As part of the new rules set to improve the SIS, member states will be obliged to inform of any terrorism alerts or threats. The SIS alerts will allow national authorities to be aware of criminals and terrorists all over Europe, hereby allowing any incoming threats to be detected early. It will make Europe a safer place and help to tackle terrorism and security issues.
New Rules Applied to the SIS
Two of the main rules that have been applied to the Schengen Information System are:
- Heightened Monitoring of Terrorist Offenses
All cases of terrorist crimes and offenses must be reported by all member states in order to maintain an updated system of Europe-wide terrorist threats.
- Updated Data Protection Rules
Data protection rules have been brought into line with new laws on data protection, including the General Data Protection Regulation and the Police Directive.
New Rules Applied to the SIS over 3-Year Course
There are also some new SIS functionalities and rules that will be implemented in phases, bringing each rule fully into force at a maximum time span of 3 years.
- Criminal Alerts and Return Decisions
New crime alerts will be part of a heightened security measure to allow member states to detect unidentified people wanted in connection with a crime.
A new alert category will be introduced for “return decisions”. This will improve the management and system for return decisions issued to third-country nationals with irregular stays in Europe.
- Preventative Alerts for People in Need
Stronger provisions will be put into place, allowing national authorities to issue preventative alerts for people in need, such as missing children or those in need of protection.
- Entry Ban Enforcement
Third-country nationals who have been banned from entering the Schengen area will be reported via the SIS, preventing further entry.
Strengthening the Schengen Information System is one of the data and security management plans that has been highlighted with importance amongst the European Commission as a significant improvement in the European security and migration system.