The UK Won’t Have Access to Schengen Information Systems After 2021, EU Parliament Says

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After Brexit is completed, the UK might not have access to the Schengen Information System (SIS), according to the first draft resolutions of relations between the EU and UK. The SIS is a system that facilitates information sharing between 30 countries at the moment for issues concerning security, law enforcement, and border control.

On February 7th, there was a motion filed to begin debates of what to do with statements made by the European Council and European Commission.

The motion states “[The European Parliament] stresses that the UK cannot have direct access to EU information systems data or participate in the management structures of the EU agencies in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice, while any sharing of information including personal data with the UK should be subject to strict safeguards, audit and oversight conditions, including an equivalent level of protection of personal data to that provided by EU law.” 

Despite this, the motion states that the EU and UK should strive for good cooperation with each other to share information that is important to security, law enforcement, and border control.

The UK Coordination Group (UKCG) headed by David McAllister states that because the UK is now a third-country to the EU and Schengen Area, the UK’s use of SIS should be suspended and calls on the UK to remedy deficiencies in the system that are the result of the UK’s use of it. They also call for the European Council and European Commission to monitor the process closely.

“[The European Parliament] considers that, as a third country, the UK cannot have access to the Schengen Information System (SIS); calls on the UK to remedy the serious deficiencies identified as regards its use of SIS immediately and calls on the Council and the Commission to monitor the process very closely to ensure that all deficiencies are addressed correctly without further delay,” the UKCG group says.

SIS is the largest information sharing system for security and border management in Europe. The system alerts members of law enforcement and border patrol of persons or objects that need to be found and apprehended and gives specific instructions on what to do with them once they are.

The system has been largely successful. Just in 2017, the SIS contained about 76.5 million messages, was accessed 5.2 billion times, and secured 243,818 hits (when a search leads to an alert and the authorities confirm it).

By 2021, SIS will have the capabilities to share information about: biometrics, counterterrorism, vulnerable persons, irregular immigration, and have enhanced access for EU authorities. Although the UK operates on SIS, it could never access Schengen-wide alerts since it never joined the Schengen Area. SIS operates in 26 EU states (Ireland and Cyprus aren’t connected yet) and 4 Schengen countries: Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.

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