Negotiating teams in the EU Parliament and Council have agreed to allow the European Union’s Law Enforcement Cooperation Agency (Europol) to add alerts about third-country nationals to the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Currently, only the relevant authorities of the Schengen countries are able to add alerts to SIS. The latter is a security system operated by the countries of the Schengen Area, which enables, among other things, border guards, visa-issuing and immigration authorities and other authorities to quickly obtain alert information about non-EU citizens who are prohibited from entering the Schengen Area and the European Union, and those who may constitute a threat to the block.
According to a press release from the European Parliament on Tuesday 15 March, allowing Europol to add alerts to SIS would strengthen the agency’s role in the fight against organized crime and terrorism.
To this end, the proposal would allow Europol to suggest alerts to Member States that should be added to the Safety Information System. The information behind the alerts can be obtained from third countries and international organizations,” the press release states, explaining how the new reform will work.
It also indicates that a new category of SIS alerts on third-country nationals will be added to the system, as Europol and Member States will be able to add more information about the movements of terrorist fighters from outside the European Union.
The new agreement between Parliament and the Council obliges Europol to share all information it contains on any situation with Member States when an alert proposal is added to the system,
“…except in cases that were clearly obtained in violation of human rights – a specification required by Parliament. Also, in the negotiations, Parliament obtained an obligation for the Europol Data Protection Officer (DPO) to always be alerted about the proposed information alert”, As stated in the press release.
Now, before the final vote on final approval of the agreement, which is due to take place in partial session in May, the Civil Liberties Commission must first support it.
At the beginning of February this year, the Council and Parliament also approved a reform of the agency’s mandate in an effort to enhance its ability to process and analyze data while respecting privacy. The same agreement must be approved by the Civil Liberties Commission and then the plenary session in May.
If the reform is approved, Europol will be able to carry out research and innovation projects, process large data sets, and more.
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