Further development of Schengen

The units responsible for implementing cooperation under the Schengen/Dublin agreements use IT systems that are indispensable for their work. These include the Eurodac and the Visa Information System (VIS) used by SEM in connection with asylum and entry, and the Schengen Information System (SIS) used by fedpol for law enforcement matters. The Schengen Acquis also provides that the Member States draw up legal provisions on the transmission of passenger data for non-Schengen flights (Advance Passenger Information, API). The current Schengen system landscape (Eurodac, VIS, API, SIS) is basically the same that was in place when Switzerland joined the Schengen area in December 2008.

As a result of the migration crisis in 2015 and the terrorist attacks in various European cities in the past few years, the European Commission has proposed various changes to the Schengen information architecture. The Commission’s legislative initiatives can be divided into three categories:

  • creation of new systems (entry/exit system (EES), European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS))
  • optimisation of existing systems (Visa Information System (VIS), European Dactyloscopy (Eurodac), Schengen Information System (SIS))
  • introduction of new components to improve interoperability.

These initiatives are intended both to improve the protection of external borders and to increase security within the Schengen area. Alongside the border control authorities and police forces, migration authorities are also affected. SEM is involved in the following Schengen reform projects in particular, which are being carried out in close cooperation with the other competent federal authorities:

  • Entry/Exit System (EES)
    The EES provides that details, including biometric identifiers (fingerprints and facial image), of all third-country citizens who enter the Schengen area for a short-term stay (no more than 90 days in any reference period of 180 days) are recorded electronically when crossing the Schengen external borders on entry and exit. Persons who stay longer in the Schengen area than is permitted are identified as overstayers and their details are recorded on a central list. The new system will replace the current manual stamping of travel documents.
  • European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)
    ETIAS is a system, similar to ESTA in the USA, which allows third-country nationals to register online in advance of entering the Schengen area. The travel request is reviewed by central unit at Frontex or by a national unit to check for any security, migration or health risks. It is planned that ETIAS travel authorisation will be a new requirement for entry to the Schengen area. However, being granted ETIAS travel authorisation does not mean that a person is guaranteed a right of entry. The travel authorisation should cost € 7 and be valid for three years.
  • Interoperability of the EU information systems
    The EU Commission has proposed two draft regulations on interoperability in order to ensure the more effective use of available information in existing and future systems. The new rules will affect the Entry/Exit System (EES), the Visa Information System (VIS), the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and the Schengen Information System (SIS). A ‘European Search Portal’ will allow border control officers or police officers to search several EU information systems at the same time. In addition, it is planned to introduce a common system that searches welches existing databases based on a comparison of biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images and which establishes a link with corresponding information in other EU information systems (Multiple Identity Detector). A common memory for identity data should prove a reliable method of establishing the identity of third-country citizens when recording biographical and biometric data (Common Identity Repository). In addition, a platform will be set up on which biometric data can be accessed and compared in order to establish links between data records and identities (Shared Biometric Matching System).
  • New version of the Eurodac Regulation (Eurodac III)
    The new Eurodac Regulation introduces essential technical innovations (e.g. facial image comparison) and will provide for a considerable expansion of the data that must be transmitted on asylum applicants and illegally resident third-country citizens. The most important technical change in the Dublin Regulation is the creation of a new distribution system for asylum seekers. The distribution mechanism is currently expected to be developed as an independent system, but closely linked to Eurodac.
  • New version of VIS Regulation (VIS II)
    The aim is to make the VIS, which is used to store and exchange data in the visa procedure, interoperable with the other major EU information systems and to improve the quality and exchange of the data. In addition, it is planned to store national long-term visa and residence documents in the VIS as well. Copies of travel documents pertaining to visa applicants will also be stored in the VIS database. The new VIS Regulation will have a profound effect on Switzerland’s national information systems, ORBIS (Visa) and ZEMIS (Central Migration Information System).
  • New version of the API Regulation (API II)
    The European Commission is expected to present its draft of a new API Directive in the near future. A fundamental rethink of the national API system is anticipated. In February 2019 the Commission published the feasibility study relating to a centralised routing mechanism (CRM) for API data. The introduction of a CRM will have an impact on data formats and standards for the transmission of flight passenger data and will necessitate a modification of the national interface.
  • Further developments in the SIS
    Three regulations on developing the SIS II system have been adopted by the European Commission. One covers dealing with removal orders, which must in future be registered in the SIS (SIS Removal). The further development relates to using the systems at external borders and has repercussions for SEM in relation to entry bans (SIS Border). An important issue in both new developments is the supply of biometric data (facial images, fingerprints) to the SIS. The third development falls within the remit of the Federal Office of Police fedpol.

Last modification 23.04.2021

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