Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Minister of State, Home Office to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 12 January 2006[188] about the draft Decision and Draft Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). I am sorry for the delay in replying. You will have noted that revised drafts of both the Council Regulation and Council Decision were recently deposited for scrutiny. I hoped to reply to the issues raised in your letter at the same time as submitting the explanatory memoranda on these documents. However, they contain such substantial changes to the original Commission proposals that I regret that we will not be in a position to submit those until after the recess.

  I can, however, give you an update of the progress made on these dossiers during the UK Presidency, during which a first reading of both proposals was completed and good progress was made in identifying the most important issues, in particular the scope of SIS II; its management; data protection and the extent to which the text of the Schengen Convention should be rewritten. Revisions of both the Regulation and the Decision were produced shortly after the end of our Presidency, but these were immediately superseded by the Austrian proposals and have not been discussed by the working group.

  The new texts revert in large part to the text of the original Schengen Convention. For example, to pick up on the two points raised in your letter, the purpose for which SIS II data may be used (Article 21 of the Regulation) now more closely reflects Article 102 of the Schengen Convention and the revised draft has removed the possibility of access for the purpose of the facilitating the Procedures and Qualification Directives. Both points will be subject to further discussion.

  Due to administrative oversight I regret that the letter to the Information Commissioner seeking his views on the original Commission proposals was not sent, contrary to the advice you were given in November. His views are now being sought on the revised proposals and I will forward these to you when they are available.

28 February 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP

  Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Committee on the European Union examined the revised proposals for a second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) at a meeting on 29 March.

  We are grateful for your comprehensive Explanatory Memorandum and for the annexes which set out the Commission's original proposal alongside the revised text. The Committee agrees that the Decision and Regulation should reflect the terms of the Schengen Convention more closely and broadly welcomes the revised texts. We are particularly glad to see that Article 21 of the revised Regulation clearly states the purpose for which SIS II data may be used in accordance with the purpose limitation provisions in Article 102 of the Convention. We also welcome the fact that the possibility of access to asylum authorities for the purpose of facilitating the Asylum Procedures and Qualification Directives has been removed in the current draft. We do not agree that such authorities should be granted access to SIS data as a source of information for their own purposes (such as determining the admissibility of an asylum application). We hope that the strict purpose limitation principle for the processing of SIS data will be maintained when the Regulation is finally approved. We would be grateful for progress reports on the further negotiations.

  We understand from your letter of 28 February 2006 that the Information Commissioner will now be consulted. We regret the failure to consult him on the previous drafts and hope to receive his views on the revised proposals. The Committee has decided to clear the earlier drafts (documents 9942/05 and 9943/05), but will keep these documents under scrutiny.

29 March 2006

188   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 553-554. Back

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