Closing security gaps in the European system

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A political agreement has been reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal to close important security gaps between information systems.

The current operation of the European system means that information can slip through security gaps; this is because information is stored separately and the systems are not connected, leading to a fragmented operational service.

The agreement will close these gaps by ensuring EU information systems for security, migration and border management work together intelligently. The interoperable framework is a political priority for 2018-2019 and will offer guards and police officers access to the correct information when and where they need it to perform their duties – helping to eradicate criminal behaviour and better protect citizens.

How has the new agreement helped to close security gaps?

The tools of the new framework will supplement a more interconnected system as all existing and future EU information systems will be linked in a bid to prevent important pieces of information from going undetected. The new tools will:

Crosscheck existing data with one click

Officers will no longer have to verify documents against multiple databases, as within seconds they will have a complete and accurate picture. This is because a European search portal will allow border guards and police to carry out simultaneous checks of identity documents against all EU information systems on a single screen, in accordance with their existing access right.

Better detect identity fraud

Border guards and police will be able to better identify dangerous criminals because of a shared biometric matching service – which will use fingerprints and facial images to search across existing information systems. A common identity repository will also store biographical data of non-EU citizens. In addition, a multiple-identity detector will cross-check and immediately flag anyone who is using fraudulent or multiple identities.

Improve access for law enforcement

Law enforcement officers will be able to consult EU information databases in a more efficient and secure way based on a two-step approach, whereby officers can request more targeted access, in line with the specific rules for each system.

Protect fundamental rights

Fundamental rights will remain protected as the new framework will not alter rules on access and purpose limitation of the EU’s information systems.

What do the Commission say?

First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans said: Today we agreed to give law enforcement officials the right tools help them catch criminals and better protect Europeans. Law enforcement, border guard, and migration officials anywhere in the EU will be able to work directly and instantly with all the available information. Europeans expect to be kept safe in Europe, and today we increased our collective ability to do just that.”

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we deliver on a quintessential piece of our security infrastructure. In the future, all the dots between our different information systems will be interlinked. This is the European Union at its best: empowering and supporting our border guards and police officers with the right tools to do their job and protect European citizens.”

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King added: “This is about responding to calls from those at the frontline, police and border guards. It is not about creating one big database or collecting more data, but using existing information in a smarter and more targeted way to help law enforcement do their job, all while fully respecting fundamental rights.”

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