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EU: Council, Europol and "expert group" press on with plans to boost "information exchange and information management"
12 September 2016
In May this year the Council of the EU drew up an extensive "roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management" in relation to justice and home affairs policies - principally policing, migration and counter-terrorism. A recent leaked document provides a summary of progress on a number of those actions, including detailed information on how security checks in the "hotspots" in Italy and Greece function.
See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Strategic Commitee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum: Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management includng interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area - State of play of the implementation of its actions
(Actions 41-50) (11954-16, LIMITE, 8 September 2016)
In a boost for state surveillance of air travel within the EU, the note also concludes that the Passenger Name Record Directive, agreed in April 2016, "obviates the need" to revise the 2002 Advance Passenger Information (API) Directive that mandates the transmission of air passengers' passport information to state authorities prior to their fights departing:
"The definition of PNR data in the 2016 PNR Directive comprises API data. Once the PNR Directive is implemented, Member States will therefore have the possibility to use API data not only for border control purposes (as is already the case under the API Directive) but also for purposes of criminal investigations and purposes. This appears to obviate the need for a revision of the legal basis of the API Directive."
has also obtained a note sent from Europol to Membe States' delegations within the Council, setting out how the policing agency is contributing to the implementation of the roadmap: Europol's contribution on its short-term activities in the implementation of the Roadmap on information exchange and interoperability
(LIMITE, 11495-16, 27 July 2016, pdf)
Some of the actions set out in the roadmap are being discussed by the new 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' (link), which held its first meeting in June. The minutes from that meeting demonstrate the broad scope of the EU's latest initiatives in information-sharing.
Regarding existing systems, the minutes highlight (emphasis added):
the need to explore the role of new technology to strengthen existing systems (e.g. use of mobile devices) from an end-user perspective
the need for a stronger focus on data quality of the systems (e.g. SIS [Schengen Information System])
the need for an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to be developed for the SIS
the problems in the implementation of Prüm [network of national DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration databases]
the importance of a decentralized use of SIENA [Secure Information Exchange Network Application]
the need to revise ECRIS [European Criminal Records Information System] to foresee its use for other purposes and end-users
the need to extend PNR and API to intra-EU flights
the need to explore and promote synergies between the Europol Information System and other systems such as the SIS
the difficulties for using Eurodac and the VIS for law enforcement purposes
the need to consider granting access to intelligence/security services to information systems such as SIS or the proposed EES
the need to ensure continuous control of the data stored in the information systems by the data owner and to improve the current audit trail of who is accessing which information
the need to analyse the potential access to meta data (statistics)
the need to ensure the necessary financial and personal resources.
Other issues are raised under "data gaps and the need to develop new systems" and "interoperability/interconnection of information systems". See: High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability: First meeting – 20 June 2016: Report (pdf)
A "scoping paper" drawn up by the European Commission (pdf) also makes for useful reading on the group's role. The next meeting is on 20 September.
Fingerprinting for all? (Statewatch News Online, July 2016)
Justice and Home Affairs info exchange and cyberspace investigations (Statewatch News Online, May 2016)