The EU Council approved the strengthening of the Schengen Information System
On 19 November, the Council adopted three regulations on the use of the Schengen Information System:
- in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
- in the field of border checks;
- for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals.
The regulations introduce additional categories of alerts to the system, such as alerts on unknown suspects or wanted persons and preventive alerts for children at risk of parental abduction.
They also expand the list of objects for which alerts can be issued, including false documents and high-value identifiable objects, as well as IT equipment.
In addition, the introduction of alerts in the SIS as regards entry bans for third-country nationals becomes compulsory.
The regulations introduce the possibility of using facial images for identification purposes, in particular to ensure consistency in border control procedures. It also allows for the inclusion of a DNA profile to facilitate the identification of missing persons in cases where fingerprint data, photographs or facial images are not available or not suitable for identification.
Europol will be able to access all categories of data in the SIS and to exchange supplementary information with Member States SIRENE Bureaux. In addition, member states must inform Europol of any hits when a person is sought in relation to a terrorist offence. This will allow Europol's European Counter Terrorism Centre to check if there is any additional relevant information available in Europol's databases.
For the purposes set out in its mandate, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will also have access to the alert categories in SIS.
The Council and the European Parliament now need to sign the adopted regulations. However, the new features of the SIS will only be fully operational at a later date, once all the legal and technical preconditions have been met.