MEPs promote improved Schengen

An improved Schengen Information System should help to step up the EU fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration.

The European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee adopted three regulations to update the Schengen Information System (SIS), including:

  • an obligation for a member state to swiftly share details of a terrorist act with all other member states;
  • a preventive alert signalling children who are at high risk, for instance from parental abduction;
  • an automatic alert to all national authorities when an entry ban is issued by one member state;
  • a new alert system for so-called ‘unknown wanted persons’, to help enforcement bodies to access SIS information on individuals whose fingerprints are found on a crime scene;
  • compulsory sharing of data on fingerprints, palm prints, facial images and DNA with all national law-enforcement authorities.

Now, identity checks in the SIS are based on alphanumerical searching (name and date of birth) and fingerprints can only be used to verify and confirm the identity of someone who has already been identified by name.

To help enforce decisions by a member state on returning an illegally staying non-EU national to his or her country of origin, MEPs also approved:

  • an obligation for member states to enter into the SIS all return decisions issued;
  • a new alert system will inform national bodies whether the period for ‘leaving voluntarily’, during which the person is asked to leave the EU, has expired;
  • a requirement for national authorities to inform the member state that launched the alert that a non-EU national has left the EU.

 Currently, there is no system in place to automatically provide information on return decisions, which are now shared on a voluntary basis.

The negotiating mandate to start talks with EU Ministers to reach an agreement on the new legislation still needs approval at Strasbourg plenary by majority vote.

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