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The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a "governmental database under the responsibility of the "European Commission. The SIS is used by 26 European countries to maintain and distribute information about individuals and entities. The intended uses of this system are for national security, border control and law enforcement. A second technical version of this system, SIS II, went live as scheduled on 9 April 2013.
Information in SIS is shared among institutions of the countries participating in the "Schengen Agreement Application Convention (SAAC). The five original participating countries were "France, "Germany, "Belgium, the "Netherlands, and "Luxembourg. 21 additional countries have joined the system since its creation: "Spain, "Portugal, "Italy, "Austria, "Greece, "Finland, "Sweden, "Switzerland, "Denmark, "Iceland, "Norway, "Estonia, "the Czech Republic, "Hungary, "Latvia, "Lithuania, "Malta, "Poland, "Slovakia, "Slovenia and "Liechtenstein. Among the current participants, "Iceland, "Liechtenstein, "Norway, and "Switzerland are not members of the "European Union.
Although "Ireland and the "United Kingdom have not signed the Schengen Agreement Application Convention, they take part in Schengen co-operation under the terms of the "Treaty of Amsterdam, which introduced the provisions of "Schengen acquis into European Union law. Schengen acquis allows the United Kingdom and Ireland to take part in all or part of the Schengen convention arrangements. Ireland and the United Kingdom use the Schengen Information System for law enforcement purposes. Ireland and the United Kingdom do not have access to Article 26D (former 96) data because these countries do not intend to remove the border controls between themselves and the rest of Europe. European citizens still have the right of free movement to the UK and Ireland but must pass through a border control point, unlike the rest of the Schengen signatory countries, among whom internal border controls have been largely abolished. "Bulgaria and "Romania have access to SIS for law enforcement purposes, while "Cyprus and "Croatia do not have any access.
SIS information is stored according to the "legislation of each participating country. There are more than 46 million entries (called alerts) in the SIS, most covering lost identity documents. Person alerts make up around 1.9% of the database (≈885,000 records), with each alert containing information items such as:
The SIS does not record travellers' entries into and exits from the "Schengen Area (there is no Schengen-wide centralised database tracking entries and exits in all 26 Schengen member states). However, 11 Schengen member states (Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain), as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, have national databases which record travellers' entries and exits, although data is not exchanged among the national databases of these countries.
A second version of the system (SIS II) is in preparation. SIS II will include the ability to store new types of data and further integrate with the new Member States of the European Union. The SIS II system will also be open to use by a greater number of institutions (for example, by legal authorities such as "Europol). Personal data will be readable, through one centralised data system throughout Europe, by police and customs officials. (Although this type of implementation remains in the future, local use would be under the responsibility of and limited by the technical capabilities of each Member State.) Some would like to use these technical changes to allow the system to be used for investigational purposes but most Member States wish the function of the SIS system to remain limited to police identity checks, leaving the role of cross-border criminal investigations to Europol.
The "Treaty of Rome of 25 March 1957, as well as the treaty instituting the economic Union of the "Benelux countries of 3 February 1958, had, from their inception, the goal of free movement of persons and goods. The Benelux countries, as a smaller group, were able to quickly implement this integration. For the European Community, the focus was initially on economic integration, and it was not until after the signing of the agreement of "Saarbrücken, between France and Germany on 13 July 1984, that significant reductions of the controls on persons at the borders between these two states were made.
Joined by the three member states of Benelux, these five countries signed the "Schengen Agreement, on 14 June 1985, for the purpose of gradually establishing free movement of persons and goods between them. Although seemingly simple, the "Schengen Agreement presented a number of practical difficulties to implementation. Drafting the text took five years. It was only on 19 June 1990 that the five precursory states who signed the Schengen Agreement Application Convention of 14 June 1985 (SAAC), began to be gradually joined by Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Austria and the five "Nordic Passport Union countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
On 21 December 2007, Schengen border-free zone was further enlarged to include nine new nations: Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
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Since 25 March 2001, fifteen States apply the SAAC and have lifted police controls at their internal borders.
One trade-off for the freedom of movement of people and goods was that each state had to relinquish a portion of its autonomy, relying on its partners to carry out measures necessary to its own safety and security. In order for the reduction of interior border checks to be done without causing a reduction in national security for member states, and in particular because Europe already faced a real terrorist threat, compensatory measures needed to be implemented. The compensatory measures form the main part of the SAAC, but the principal one, the backbone of Schengen, is the creation of a common information system to the signatory States: the Schengen Information System (the SIS). This system is an innovator as regards police co-operation, legally speaking as well as technically:
As an information processing system dealing with personal data, compliance with national data laws is a precondition to the implementation of the convention. Thus, each national authority (for France, the National Commission of Data Processing and Freedoms or "CNIL") is in charge of the control of the national part of SIS. The Convention thus created a common control authority, independent of the States and composed of representatives from the national authorities, responsible for the application of the provisions relating to the personal data protection.
At a technical level, the participating countries adopted a data-processing star architecture made up of a central site containing the reference database, known as C-SIS, for which the responsibility is entrusted to the French Republic by the CAAS, and a site by country, known as N-SIS, containing a copy of the database. These various databases must be kept consistent with each other. Together the C-SIS and N-SIS's constitute the SIS.
An agreement was found on the definition of the descriptions to be integrated in this system. They concern persons:
The remainder of the database is populated with alerts relating to:
A strong technical constraint, aiming at ensuring the update of SIS in a maximum of five minutes, ensures the correctness of the data. France chose an automated solution for the insertion of the records in SIS, extracting them from large national databases. This automation limits human interventions that might generate errors and waste time. In the same spirit, France decided to couple end-users' queries of national databases with the SIS. Thus, without additional effort, a police officer querying the database of the wanted persons (FPR) or the database of the stolen vehicles (FVV) will obtain a response from the Schengen States' information at the same time as the response from the domestic databases.
The linguistic problem brought the creation of particular procedures which describe, according to pre-established forms, the way in which the exchanges must proceed, as well as the creation, in each country, of an office particularly in charge of this new international form of cooperation. This service, single contact point by country, ensures the transmission between the French and foreign services of the all relevant information, allowing the execution of the measure to be taken. Their translation, took the name of "SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entry). Whenever a State authority has a hit on a SIS record, the SIRENE exchange, by its own communication network, sends notification forms of the discovery and further information which, although essential to the good continuation of the investigations and procedures in progress, cannot appear in the SIS records themselves.
Beside the SIS and the SIRENE offices, whose intervention are directly dependent, the Schengen convention instituted police co-operation and legal mutual assistance which usefully complete these operational dispositions. The police co-operation covers in particular:
The legal mutual assistance envisages in particular, the possibility of transmitting directly certain parts of procedure by postal way to the persons being on the territory of other States; to transmit requests for legal mutual assistance directly between legal authorities; finally to transmit the execution of a criminal judgement to a contracting part on the territory of which one of its nationals took refuge. In addition, the convention compares the inscription of a warrant for arrest in the SIS to a request for provisional arrest for extradition, which causes to ensure the immediate placement of the individuals under extradition detention.
At the end of November 2011, SIS1 was renewed (more than a year later than initially planned). It was the second renewal of SIS1 (so called SIS1+R2). One of the main advantages of the second renewal was that there was no limitation on the number of states connected to SIS1. In the previous version of SIS1, only 30 states or organizations could connect to SIS1. The main reason for renewal was to connect Romania and Bulgaria. In the previous version of SIS1, it was not possible to connect them to SIS since 28 states and Europol and Eurojust were already connected. Although SIS1+R2 took place, Romania and Bulgaria are still not connected due to political objections.["citation needed]
A second technical version of this system (SIS II) which should have been completed by the end of 2006 went live on 9 April 2013, under the responsibility of the European Commission. Some["who?] would like it to become a system of investigation, thus modifying its original finality of a check tool. To justify this evolution, the current system was criticised because of its limitation with 18 connections. This limitation has no technical reason, tests having proven the ability of the current system to sustain the traffic produced by thirty countries, but is a political issue, as the Council decided to limit this number of connections on the SIS 1+ (modification due to overcome the "Year 2000 problem and allow the connection of the five Nordic States rapidly) to 18 connections. Some of the system's technicians estimate that the current system could have evolved to manage the new countries without an overall recasting. See for example report/ratio of the French Senate (p. 14) on the recasting of SIS. Had the Council chosen to follow the smooth evolution path from SIS 1+ to SIS II, the SIS II would already be operational and the new member states could connect their systems whenever they are ready. The critics of the project, of recasting, point out the flexibility of the current system, although it already knew several evolutions. They criticise the risks of delay and the significant cost of the draft prepared by the Commission. According to wishes of the European political leaders for greater accessibility to the data of all the services contributing to interior security, SIS II's improvements to the SIS are acceptable. These accesses, which will soon["when?] be open to the end-user, do not depend, for the majority, on the system itself but on the management of the data in the participating countries themselves.
Due to delays in the SIS II deployment, which should have been available in mid-2008, Portugal offered a modified version of its SIS 1+ system to new member states. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia accepted the Portuguese proposal and use the new system until the SIS II deployment. This version, named SISone4ALL, which was developed by SEF (Portugal's Border and Foreigners Service) and "Critical Software, was deployed in 2007 and allowed the adherence of participant new Member States to be on schedule.
Switzerland also decided to join Schengen, using SISone4ALL before SIS II deployment.
In December 2011, Liechtenstein joined Schengen, also using SISone4ALL.
Bulgaria and Romania joined SIS II for law enforcement cooperation on 15 October 2010. Croatia will join on 27 June 2017.