Information sharing in EU and Schengen area to be reformed – efficient interoperability of information systems as aim 

Efficient management of borders and migration in Europe relies on centralised large-scale information systems: 

  • Schengen Information System (SIS), containing alerts on persons wanted for arrest and on entry bans
  • Visa Information System (VIS)
  • Eurodac fingerprinting system for asylum seekers. 

Interoperability of information systems is the ability of information systems to exchange data. 

The European Union agency responsible for the operational management of these three information systems is eu-LISA. Interoperability of the EU-wide information systems will be achieved in collaboration with the EU Member States. In addition, three other EU-wide information systems will be created:

  • Entry/Exit System (EES)
  • European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) 
  • European Criminal Records Information System for third-country nationals (ECRIS-TCN). 

Stronger security and smoothly flowing border traffic as goals

The aim of the EU-wide interoperability effort is to strengthen security in parallel with a smooth flow of border traffic. In future, national authorities will be better able to detect security threats, intensify controls at external borders, and combat identity fraud and illegal migration. 

Interoperability of EU-wide information systems will not only increase security, it will also make travelling easier within the European Union. For example, border checks of third-country nationals will be faster and data on their border crossings will be immediately available to all responsible authorities. The first new system to be introduced is the Entry/Exit System (EES) at the end of 2024. The plan is to have all the systems fully running by 2027. 

Each EU Member State is responsible for its own part for ensuring the necessary national implementation within the agreed timeframe. The Ministry of the Interior coordinates the work in Finland in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance as well as the National Police Board, the Finnish Border Guard, the Legal Register Centre, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, the Government Centre for Information and Communication Technologies, and the Finnish Customs. A legislative project, tasked with preparing the necessary legislative amendments for the national enforcement of the EU-level interoperability, completed its work in autumn 2022. 

Technical components enable combining of data from multiple systems

Interoperability of EU-wide information systems will enable competent authorities, including border guards, police officers, and visa and immigration authorities, to access data faster. In addition, data on third-country nationals in the EU will be more reliable and comprehensive than before. It will be easier to identify persons who are staying in the EU illegally or who are suspected of criminal offences. 

The EU-wide interoperability framework relies on four new technical components:

  1. European Search Portal (ESP) for searching multiple EU information systems simultaneously using, for example, biometric data, such as facial images and fingerprints.
  2. Shared Biometric Matching System (sBMS) for comparing biometric data entered in one system with fingerprints and facial images stored in other systems. 
  3. Common Identity Repository (CIR) for storing the personal data, biometric data and travel document data on third-country nationals available in EU information systems. 
  4. Multiple Identity Detector (MID) for checking matches of personal data, biometric data or travel document data in other systems to enable the detection of multiple identities linked to the same set of biometric data.

A central repository for reporting and statistics (CRRS) will also be introduced in addition to the four basic components. The CRRS will produce statistics and analytics on interoperable EU-wide information systems. 

These new components will enable a transition from outdated silo-based systems to new kinds of holistic approaches, while fully respecting the original objectives and data protection requirements of individual systems. Interoperability of information systems improves cooperation between authorities, increases the security of information systems and makes travelling easier for third-country nationals.

The changes mainly apply to third-country nationals

Apart from the Schengen Information System, the future interoperable EU information systems will only contain data on third-country nationals. The most noticeable change for individual citizens is that the passports of third-country nationals will no longer be stamped at external borders, as border-crossing data will be stored digitally in the EU-wide Entry/Exit System (EES). Another new feature is the introduction of a travel authorisation procedure for third-country nationals.