24 Schengen Information System |
Draft Decision on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II)
Revised draft of the proposed Decision
Draft Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II)
Revised draft of the Regulation
|Legal base||(a) and (b) Articles 30(1)(a) and (b), 31(1)(a) and (b) and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity|
(c) and (d) Articles 62(2)(a) and 66 EC; co-decision; QMV
|Deposited in Parliament||(b) and (d) 20 July 2006
|Basis of consideration||(b) and (d) EM of 4 August 2006
|Previous Committee Report||(a) HC 34-xxxv (2005-06), para 7 (12 July 2006)|
(c) HC 34-xxxiii (2005-06), para 6 (28 June 2006)
(b) and (d) None
|Discussed in Council||24 July 2006
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
|Committee's decision||(a) and (c) Cleared|
(b) and (d) Not cleared; further information awaited
SIS I and II
24.1 The main aim of the Schengen Convention of 1990 was to abolish
checks at the borders between the signatory States while strengthening
control of the external borders of the Schengen area. In addition,
the Convention and subsequent measures contain provisions on police
and judicial co-operation for the detection and prosecution of
serious cross-border crime. The collective name for the Convention
and subsequent agreements is "the Schengen acquis".
The UK is not part of the Schengen area and does not participate
in the immigration and border control provisions of the acquis,
but it does participate in the provisions on police and judicial
24.2 The present Schengen Information System (SIS
I) dates from 1995. It contains information about, for example,
people wanted for arrest or extradition, third-country nationals
to be denied entry, missing persons, and stolen vehicles, firearms
and other property. It comprises a central database and national
databases. The system is capable of serving a maximum of 18 States.
24.3 In 2001, the Commission was given a mandate
to develop the second generation of the Schengen Information System
(SIS II). The purpose of SIS II is to enable up to 30 States to
participate in the System and to include biometric data in the
information it holds. In addition to the Member States, Iceland,
Norway and Switzerland will take part in SIS II, which is due
to become operational in 2007.
Proposals for a Decision and a Regulation
24.4 In May 2005, the Commission presented the draft
of a Decision on the police and judicial co-operation aspects
of SIS II. It also presented a draft Regulation on the immigration
aspects. Separate measures are required because the legal bases
for the provisions on police and judicial co-operation are in
the EU Treaty, whereas the legal bases for the immigration provisions
are in the EC Treaty.
24.5 The UK is excluded from the proposed Regulation
because it does not take part in the immigration provisions of
the Schengen acquis. But it has an interest in it because
the draft Decision and the draft Regulation have common provisions
on matters such as the purpose, scope, architecture, management
and security of SIS II.
24.6 In addition to those common provisions, the
draft Decision includes specific provision on the information
which may be entered on SIS II about people wanted for arrest,
extradition, or appearance as witnesses in criminal proceedings
and about the surveillance of people or objects (such as stolen
vehicles, identity papers, money or firearms).
24.7 In addition to the common provisions, the draft
Regulation specifies the conditions on which information may be
entered on SIS II about third-country nationals to be refused
entry or stay in the territory of the Member States and contains
provisions about access to the data and the retention, processing
and protection of the information.
Previous scrutiny of documents (a) and (c)
have considered successive revisions of texts of the draft Decision
and Regulation, culminating in our scrutiny of document (a) in
July and document (c) in June.
The Government told us that it was broadly content with both drafts.
We kept the documents under scrutiny pending receipt of the Information
Commissioner's views on the data protection provisions (which
we had previously asked the Minister to obtain).
Documents (b) and (d)
24.9 The drafts of the Decision and Regulation have
been further amended to take account of both the views of the
European Parliament and negotiations in the Council. Most of the
amendments are minor. For example, provision has been added to
the proposed common Article on the exchange of supplementary information
to require requests for supplementary information to be answered
as soon as possible.
24.10 A few of the amendments are of greater substance.
- Article 27AA of document (d)
and Article 48 of document (b) would now prohibit the transfer
of personal data to third countries or international organisations;
- an annex containing a draft Declaration by the
Commission, the Council and the European Parliament has been added
to both documents. It invites the Commission to make legislative
proposals for the creation of a new Agency to be responsible for
the operational management of SIS II (in the short term, France
and Austria will have the responsibility). The draft proposes
a commitment by the Commission to present the draft legislation
within two years of documents (b) and (d) coming into effect;
and a commitment by the European Parliament and the Council to
adopt the legislation in time for the Agency to begin its work
within five years.
The Government's view on documents (b) and (d)
24.11 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
at the Home Office (Joan Ryan) tells us that the Government supports
the creation of a new, independent Agency to be responsible for
the operational management of SIS II after a transitional period.
However, the Government regrets the proposal for an absolute prohibition
on the exchange of personal data with third countries or international
organisations even if they have robust data protection arrangements.
Otherwise, the Government is content with or welcomes the amendments
incorporated in document (b) and (d).
24.12 We are grateful to the Minister for her
clear and comprehensive Explanatory Memorandum. We see no need
to differ from the Government's assessment of the amendments.
As we have made clear repeatedly, we regard the data protection
arrangements as crucial and we shall not reach a conclusion on
them until the Minister has told us about the views of the Information
Commissioner on the proposed arrangements.
24.13 Accordingly, we shall keep documents (b)
and (d) under scrutiny. But we clear documents (a) and (c) because
they have been superseded by the revised texts.
67 See headnote. Back