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UK seeking to join interoperable "Big Brother" database
10.6.18
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Sir Tim Barrow, Head of UK Representation to the EU in Brussels has sent a letter to the Council Presidency saying that the UK wants to opt into the proposed Regulation establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration): Letter to the Council (LIMITE doc no: 9238-18, pdf).

The Letter says that the opt-in is "to the extent that the measure does build on the Schengen acquis" that the UK participates in, namely the Council Decision 2007/533/JHA which says:

"Article 2 - Scope

"This Decision establishes the conditions and procedures for the entry and processing in SIS II of alerts on persons and objects, the exchange of supplementary information and additional data for the purpose of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters."

Schengen has three areas of responsibility: Border control cooperation, Law enforcement cooperation and Cooperation on vehicle registration. The UK is not part of border controls and the UK cannot issue or access Schengen-wide alerts for refusing entry or stay into the Schengen area.See: SIS (link).

A few fiddly problems

First, the draft Regulation under discussion makes explicit in:

"Article 48

Communication of personal data to third countries, international organisations and private parties Personal data stored in or accessed by the interoperability components shall not be transferred or made available to any third country, to any international organisation or to any private party."

Under Brexit the UK will become a third country.

Second, the Regulation setting up the centralised database is intended to extend access of law enforcement agencies to personal data concerning asylum and borders on non-EU nationals. The UK has not opted into SIS border control measures.

The centralised database will initially include: the Schengen Information System (SIS), Eurodac (fingerprints of asylum-seekers and, under new proposals, third country nationals who have entered “irregularly”) and the Visa Information System (VIS, personal data and fingerprints of short stay visas) plus three new systems currently being negotiated and/or developed: the Entry-Exit System (EES), European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS, for visa-free arrivals) and the European Criminal Records Information System for third-country nationals (ECRIS-TCN).

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