On the week that marks the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome eu-LISA hosts the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and representatives of the European embassies for the annual briefing on eu-LISA's role and how it contributes to safety and security in Europe. Discussions in the headquarters of the Agency on 23 March will focus on the 2017 priorities of the Agency and those for the period of its possible new mandate.
Krum Garkov, the Executive Director of eu-LISA said: "The area of freedom, security and justice has gone through a significant transformation in the last years. Today the pressure on it, as a consequence of irregular migration and terrorist threats, is continuously growing. At the same time home affairs are becoming increasingly reliant on modern technologies and information sharing. Moreover, the fast convergence between internal security as well as border and migration management is increasing the demand and expectations towards present and future technologies and IT systems."
Efficiently tackling the growing security risks requires joint efforts by Member States and EU institutional stakeholders, with Justice and Home Affairs Agencies playing an increasingly stronger operational role. Joint efforts should however be framed by action plans that are driven by operational demands and agreed upon between eu-LISA and the relevant JHA agencies to provide added value rather than overlapping actions. Thus, the eu-LISA 2017 priorities are related to the evolution of existing systems as well as preparing for the introduction of new ones. Both of these major task areas are associated with the revision of the Agency's mandate and legal proposals that are currently being negotiated at institutional level.
Evolution of the existing and introduction of new systems
The "Communication on Stronger and Smarter Information Systems on Borders and Security", issued by the European Commission on 6 April 2016, sets out eu-LISA's enhanced role in interoperability of the existing systems to increase their efficiency. Following the interim report of the Commission in particular, eu-LISA is now focusing on following interoperability dimensions: feasibility of creating the European Search Portal, exploring the technical and operational aspects of the implementation of shared biometric matching service, establishment of a data warehouse with anonymised data as well as exploring the necessity and technical feasibility of the common data repository.
The current pressure from irregular migration and related increased number of asylum applications at the EU's external borders is not likely to diminish in the coming years. In this respect, Eurodac will most likely evolve beyond its current legal framework and become an even more useful tool to support the management of individual applications for asylum and monitor intra-community movements. This means eu-LISA will have to continue to implement necessary changes to the Eurodac system.
Based on the
proposal submitted by the Commission on the 21 December 2016, the Agency is also prepared to start implementing the necessary changes to SIS II once the SIS II recast regulations are adopted.
In 2017, pending the adoption of the relevant legislative proposals, the Agency is expected to start developing the Entry/Exit System and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
The establishment of the Entry/Exit system is necessary to improve the quality and efficiency of border checks for third country nationals whilst helping Member States to deal with increasing traveller flows, without necessarily increasing the number of border guards. It is also relevant in ensuring the systematic and reliable identification of
'overstayers' in the Schengen territory. Above all, the new system will reinforce internal security as well as the fight against terrorism and serious crime.
The ETIAS will gather information on all travellers from third countries who are travelling visa free to Europe and ensure that possible security concerns are identified prior to travelling to the Schengen area, contributing to a more efficient management of the EU's external borders and improving internal security and the security of EU citizens.
eu-LISA provides effective operational management of the Eurodac system (a large-scale fingerprint database that assists primarily in the processing of asylum applications), the Schengen Information System (SIS II - the largest information system for public security and law enforcement cooperation in Europe) and the Visa Information System (VIS - a system that allows Schengen states to exchange visa data relating to applications for short-stay visas to visit or to transit through the Schengen area). In addition, the Agency is responsible for the communication networks that support the above mentioned systems. In terms of networks, eu-LISA is the communication infrastructure provider for Eurodac, SIS II and VIS. The Agency is also responsible for VIS Mail and DubliNet, the communication tools for the VIS and Eurodac systems respectively. In 2015 eu-LISA carried out, in close cooperation with Member States, the Smart Borders Pilot testing phase to test new technologies on the EU borders and provide decision-makers with information on the feasibility of deploying biometric identifiers at the Schengen external borders.
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