LORDS

Committee criticises Government on Parliamentary Scrutiny of SIS II

11 March 2015

Lord Boswell, Chairman of the House of Lords EU Committee has written to Karen Bradley MP, Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime on the scrutiny failures in the handling of the UK accession to the Second Schengen Information System (SIS II).

Background

The corollary of the virtual elimination of border controls between the Schengen States is that those States need access to each other's data for the control of the external borders of the Schengen area. The first Schengen Information System, SIS, which came into operation in 1995, therefore allowed the Schengen States to access a multinational database for the use by immigration, border control and judicial and police authorities. In 2001 the European Council authorised the Commission to develop a new and enhanced system, SIS II, which could, among other things, include the A8 States (the ten Member States which joined the EU in 2004, less Cyprus and Malta) which were keen to join the Schengen area as soon as possible after their accession.

The UK is not part of the Schengen area. Nevertheless it obtained in 2000 authorisation to participate in those parts of the SIS database relating to police and judicial cooperation, but not immigration. SIS II, which was originally intended to begin in 2006; in fact it went live only on 9 April 2013, and then only for Schengen States.

The Council Decision of 10 February 2015

The Council Decision provides that from 1 March 2015 the SIS alerts on, among other things, European Arrest Warrants, national and public security threats, and missing children and vulnerable adults, may be made available to the UK. From 13 April 2015 the UK can use this data, and can enter into SIS II itself.

Letter to Karen Bradley MP

The UK accession to SIS II is long awaited and very welcome. The Committee believes that SIS II has the potential to improve the coordination of the fight against crime, especially organised crime. 

However, the Committee expresses its disappointment that the Government failed to deposit the draft Council Decision (2015/215) for scrutiny by the Committee, and adopted the Decision before the Committee had cleared the document from scrutiny, thus constituting a scrutiny override.

Further information

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