Renewed Schengen Information System Goes Live in All EU & Schengen Member States, But Cyprus

The European Union’s Schengen Information System, which supports border controls and law enforcement cooperation in and between the Member States, has gone live today in an upgraded version throughout the whole block.

The upgraded SIS, amongst others, will include new categories of alerts, biometrics such as complete palm prints, fingermarks, and DNA records for persons reported missing, and will also contain new tools to fight crime and terrorism, reports.

According to a press release of the EU Commission regarding the launch of the renewed SIS, alongside with two other upcoming systems, the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), SIS will be part of the interoperability architecture of the basis of the most advanced border management system in the world, that is being built by the EU.

As of today, the renewed SIS is operational in 30 countries throughout Europe (26 EU Member States and the Schengen associated countries). The connection of Cyprus to SIS in summer 2023 will further extend security cooperation throughout the entire Union,” the press release noted.

The additional tools that the upgraded SIS will consist of are dedicated to the:

  • Combating criminality and terrorism through new inquiry check alerts that will enable national authorities to collect targeted information on suspects.
  • Protection of missing and vulnerable persons through preventive alerts in addition to existing alerts on missing persons.
  • Preventing and deterring irregular migration by including decisions for return in the system to improve the effective enforcement of these decisions.

In addition, EU agencies and national immigration authorities will have more access to the SIS, including the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the operational teams of which have been granted access to SIS as well.

The renewed SIS will bring increased security for all citizens, strengthened protection for vulnerable people and enhanced cooperation between national authorities,” the Commission says.

In spite of the increase in tools and access to SIS, the EU Commission highlights the strict requirements that the use of SIS has on data quality and data protection.

The SIS was created almost 30 years ago, in 1995, following the removal of internal border controls between Schengen participating countries at the time. The renewal of the system has been decided in 2016, when the EU authorities concluded that there were opportunities to further enhance its effectiveness and efficiency.

Currently, all EU and Schengen countries have access to SIS, but Cyprus. The Cypriot authorities have asked for access to SIS in December last year, claiming that the border authorities would be able to carry out more effective border controls if they had access to SIS. According to the Commission, they will be able to have access to the system in the summer of this year, though an exact date has not been defines yet.