The Government has decided to opt in (under the UK’s JHA opt-in Protocol) to a proposal for establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) and not to opt out (under the UK’s Schengen opt-out Protocol) of the proposal, to the extent it affects the Schengen acquis in which we already participate.
The Proposal will allow law enforcement and border guards to search all the relevant databases with a single query and will link together matching biometric information. It will also create links between related records, and will alert officials when potential multiple identities have been found. It covers three existing databases (Schengen Information System II, Visa Information System, EURODAC) and 3 planned databases (European Travel Information and Authorisation System, Entry Exit System, European Criminal Records Information System-Third Country Nationals). The UK participates in SIS II, EURODAC and ECRIS-TCN.
The intended aim of the work is to prevent incorrect or fragmented data amongst JHA databases and improve their efficiency and usage by law enforcement. This should prevent identity fraud and reduce inconveniences to honest travellers due to errors or similarities in biographical information. This will have benefits for UK policing being able to identity third country nationals who are victims, witnesses or suspects to crimes and terrorist incidents. It will also improve the quality and scope of data available to asylum officials. The Government supports the aims of this work and has made this decision to maximise the benefits to the UK from access to these databases.
The decisions announced here have no implications for our general opt out from the internal border-free zone established by Schengen.
Until the UK leaves the EU it remains a full member, and the Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to, or opt out of, forthcoming EU legislation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting our civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: