Improvements in the Schengen Information System which will guarantee more security in Europe without internal borders will be voted on today by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Carlos Coelho MEP, the Rapporteur for the Schengen Information System, said: “The Schengen Information System is an essential tool to better secure our borders and to fight and prevent crime in the EU. The new rules will make sharing information on terrorism mandatory and faster. It will allow fingerprints, palm prints, facial images and DNA found in one state immediately available to all other national law-enforcement authorities in the EU. The greater access of Europol to the database will also guarantee a coordinated action in preventing, investigating and prosecuting terrorist activities. The Schengen Information System can provide more security to EU citizens. And it can do so in the short term. This is why the EPP Group called for this reform to apply no later than one year since its adoption.”

Jeroen Lenaers MEP, the Rapporteur on the legislation which will allow for the use of the Schengen Information System for returns of illegally-staying persons, commented on the suggested improvements: “In 2016, only 46% of people required to leave the EU were returned to their home countries. This is an untenable situation. If we are not able to increase the efficiency with which we are able to enforce returns of persons who don’t have the right to stay in the Member States, it will be difficult to maintain support among our citizens for the Common European Asylum System. The reformed Schengen Information System is an important improvement to the current situation. It will guarantee that once a decision on the return of an illegally-staying person is issued by the competent authorities in one Member State, this information is available to other Member States in case the illegally-staying person absconds to one of those Member States.”

The Schengen Information System was developed for the purpose of police and judicial cooperation as well as border management in the Schengen area. It allows competent authorities to create and consult alerts on missing persons and on persons or objects related to criminal offences. Border guards and visa-issuing and migration authorities can enter and consult alerts in the SIS on third-country nationals whose entry into or stay in the Schengen area was refused. The SIS is also used for checks on the legal status of vehicles.

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 216 Members from 27 Member States

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