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EU to extend Schengen Information System to new member states

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The Civil Liberties Committee signaled on Thursday that it wants a first reading agreement with the Council on legislation to allow the enlargement of the Schengen Information System (SIS) to the ten new Member States. It adopted a package of three proposals and amended Commission plans for SIS II. The committee approved over 200 compromise amendments in two co-decision reports and one consultation report by Carlos Coelho (EPP-ED, PT) on proposals for the establishment, operation and use of SIS II as well as the access to SIS II by the services in the Member States responsible for vehicle registration. The compromise texts were the result of negotiations with the Council Presidency and had been agreed with the European Commission.

The changes should improve SIS II's security and personal data protection standards, and they also give Parliament a stronger supervisory role. SIS is a common information system allowing cooperation between competent authorities in the Member States, through the exchange of information for the implementation of various policies. The integration of the new Member States in the SIS relies on the availability of a new version, SIS II. One of the compromise proposals is for a Management Authority, funded by the EU budget, to manage the operation of the SIS II central data base. The Management Authority's personal data processing activities would be monitored by the European Data Protection Supervisor, who would be required to ensure that they are audited to international standards at least every four years.

Personal data processing at national level would be audited by national supervisory authorities, but in co-operation with the European Data Protection Supervisor so as to ensure co-ordinated supervision. Each Member State would be responsible for setting up and maintaining a national data system that can communicate with the central SIS II and must designate an authority for that purpose. It would also have to take steps necessary to protect personal data. Coelho noted that all negotiators had made concessions, and said he hoped the Council would honor the agreement. The Finnish Presidency representative said that the results of the committee vote would be submitted to the Council for further reflection. (EP Press)

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