Commission reports that SIS II is "on track" to come into operation in early 2013

A report from the Commission on the development of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) says that tests undertaken in the first half of 2012 have had mostly positive results, and the system is "on track for the planned go-live in the first quarter of 2013." [1]

SIS II will add a number of new features to the current Schengen Information System that may "have serious consequences for fundamental rights," according to analyst Joanna Parkin. [2]

These include the insertion of biometric data into the system; interlinking of alerts on people and/or objects; and potential interoperability with other European databases such as the Visa Information System (VIS).

A previous Statewatch analysis noted that SIS II, along with the VIS and Passenger Name Record (PNR) systems, will "introduce the surveillance of the movement of everyone in the EU - citizens, legally resident third-country nationals, visa entrants and irregular migrants - and the storage of their personal data on an unprecedented scale." [3]

The Commission and numerous European and national working groups responsible for the development and testing of SIS II have, however, moved far beyond fundamental rights and privacy issues, and have long been concerned with the technical side of things. Currently, this involves a barrage of tests designed to ensure that the system can cope with a massive increase in data.

The Commission's latest report covers the period January to June this year, noting that "the highlight of the reporting period was the execution of the second Milestone test," undertaken following a request made by the Council in 2009. [4]

The "Milestone test" gives some impression of the amount of data that will be transferred via and stored in the SIS II database. It took place in early May and involved 11 Member States, whose national systems "exchanged uninterruptedly over two million standard transactions" with the central system.

This number exceeded "in five days the load of SIS I over an entire month."

Other tests aimed to verify "the compliance of the national system with the SIS II specifications. By mid-June, the majority (26) of the Member States had successfully completed their national [compliance] campaign," although "four Member States still faced technical issues."

These were expected to be resolved by August 2012 "at the latest." No Member States are referred to by name.

The Commission has so far set aside over €149 million for the development of SIS II, of which nearly €110 million had been spent by the end of June 2012.

Two contractors are listed in the Commission's report - HP/Stéria, who have so far received almost €67.5 million, and Atos, who have nearly €5 million.

Three further actions are planned for 2012 in order to ensure that SIS II can come into use in the first quarter of 2013, by which time it will be administered by the new Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems. These are "the completion of the comprehensive test"; the "SIRENE test", which covers the system used by law enforcement authorities to exchange messages; and "the adoption of the migration instruments", which will ensure that transferal of data from the current system to SIS II will take place using the correct legal basis.

Commission, 'Progress report on the development of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), January 2012 - June 2012', 11 October 2012
[2] Joanna Parkin, 'The Difficult Road to the Schengen Information System II: The legacy of 'laboratories' and the cost for fundamental rights and the rule of law', April 2011, p.31
[3] Ben Hayes, 'From the Schengen Information System to SIS II and the Visa Information System (VIS): the proposals explained', February 2004
Council of the European Union, 'Council Conclusions on the further direction of SIS II', 5 June 2009, p.3

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