Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary written evidence by Jonathan Faull, European Commission

  Further to the meeting I had with the members of the Home Affairs Sub-Committee of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union in Brussels on 28 November, I would like to provide the members with further information regarding the access of UK authorities to the SIS immigration data and the Schengen Evaluation procedure, which were particular points of interest to them. I should be grateful if you would ensure that the position set out below is fully reflected in the record of my evidence.


  Following the UK's request, the Council decided in 2000 on the participation of the UK in the Schengen Acquis limited to the aspects linked to police and judicial cooperation in the criminal field.[6] This includes, in particular, access to SIS alerts for arrest and surrender, alerts for discrete checks or specific checks and alerts on persons wanted for a judicial procedure. The limited participation of the UK in the Schengen acquis excludes its participation in the exchange of information via the SIS aimed at the control of external borders or the issuing of visas. As the UK does not participate in these common Schengen policies it has no access to SIS alerts for the purpose of refusing entry.

  The recitals of this Council's Decision indicate the following:

    "Whereas it is the view of the Council that any partial participation by the United Kingdom in the Schengen acquis must respect the coherence of the subject areas which constitute the ensemble ofthis acquis;

    Whereas the Council thus recognises the right of the United Kingdom to make, in accordance with Article 4 of the Schengen Protocol, a request for partial participation, noting at the same time that it is necessary to consider the impact of such participation of the United Kingdom in the provisions concerning the establishment and operation of the SIS on the interpretation of the other relevant provisions of the Schengen acquis and on its financial implications".

  The UK's lack of access to immigration data is also made clear in the draft SIS II legal instruments.

  If the UK wants to enlarge its access to SIS data, it should consider participating fully in the Community Acquis related to the creation of an area without internal border controls. The full application of Schengen acquis, which includes access to the SIS immigration data for the control of the external borders or the issuing of visas, would benefit both the EU and the UK. Not only would the UK draw the maximum benefit for UK and other EU citizens as regards free movement, but this would also facilitate the movement of third country nationals travelling into or residing legally in the EU.


  The Commission has been invited in the Hague Programme "to submit, as soon as the abolition of controls at internal borders has been completed, a proposal to supplement the existing Schengen evaluation mechanism with a supervisory mechanism, ensuring full involvement of Member States experts, and including unannounced inspections".

  The Commission has not yet presented such a proposal as the abolition of controls at internal borders with the Member States that joined the European Union in 2004 has not been completed.

15 December 2006

6   Council Decision 2000/365/EC, OJ L 232/43 of 1.6.2000. Back

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