While EU institutions have been discussing the possibility of “interoperability” between justice and home affairs databases since the early years of the 21st century, it was not until 2016 that concrete plans were put in motion. The European Commission framed a series of terrorist attacks and the arrival of over one million refugees as security threats that required the creation of a comprehensive digital identity architecture for non-EU nationals. This was to be achieved by interconnecting existing databases and setting up new ones, to close “information gaps” and “blind spots” – a framing that provides a continual justification for expanding surveillance and data collection schemes. Nearly seven years later, those plans are in full swing and new elements are continuously being added, demonstrating that the existing architecture is not an end in itself but a building block for more comprehensive systems of surveillance and control.
The core elements of the EU’s interoperability architecture are:
These are to be used to interconnect data from, and facilitate access to:
A further crucial element in the interoperability architecture is the new Central Repository for Reporting and Statistics (CRRS), which is discussed in more detail below.
 European Commission, ‘Communication on improved effectiveness, enhanced interoperability and synergies among European databases in the area of Justice and Home Affairs’, Council document 5122/05, 29 November 2005, https://www.statewatch.org/media/documents/interoperability/interoperability/Unsorted/council/eu-council-interoperability-15122-05.pdf
 “In the past three years, the EU has experienced an increase in irregular border crossings into the EU, and an evolving and ongoing threat to internal security as demonstrated by a series of terrorist attacks.” See: European Commission, COM(2017) 794 final, 12 December 2017, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52017PC0794
 European Commission, ‘Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security’, COM(2016) 205 final, 6 April 2016, https://www.statewatch.org/media/documents/interoperability/interoperability/commission/eu-com-205-communication-on-stronger-and-smart-borders-06-04-16.pdf
 ‘European police facial recognition system must be halted, warns new paper’, Statewatch¸ 7 September 2022, https://www.statewatch.org/news/2022/september/european-police-facial-recognition-system-must-be-halted-warns-new-paper/; ‘EU: Tracking the Pact: Access to criminal records for “screening” of migrants’, Statewatch¸ 26 July 2022, https://www.statewatch.org/news/2022/july/eu-tracking-the-pact-access-to-criminal-records-for-screening-of-migrants/
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