The Commission is today proposing to strengthen the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the Schengen Information System (SIS), as announced in the Communication setting out the way forward towards the achievement of an effective and sustainable EU Security Union and as reiterated in President Juncker’s State of the Union Address. Consulted 2.9 billion times in 2015, SIS is the most widely used information sharing system for border management and security in Europe. The proposed improvements will further enhance the ability of the system to fight terrorism and cross-border crime, improve border and migration management and ensure an effective information exchange between Member States to increase the security of European citizens. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “With today’s proposals, we extend the scope of the Schengen Information System to close information gaps and improve information exchange on terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration – contributing to a stronger control of our external borders and an effective and sustainable EU Security Union. In the future, no critical information should ever be lost on potential terrorist suspects or irregular migrants crossing our external borders.” Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, said: “The Schengen Information System is central to Europe’s internal security. Today’s measures will deliver important technical and operational improvements so it’s easier to detect and identify those who wish us harm. It will also improve cooperation and information sharing between Member States and with relevant EU agencies. Much more remains to be done though: SIS is only as good as the data inputted into it. We’ll bring forward further improvements in 2017.”
The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU’s relocation and resettlement schemes. The Commission also adopted a fourth Recommendation today that takes stock of the progress achieved by Greece to put in place a fully functioning asylum system and sets out a process for the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Our comprehensive European approach on migration is showing positive results. We can see this in the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the dramatic decrease in the number of irregular migrants arriving in Greece. We also see it in the progress made by the Greek authorities in rectifying deficiencies in the country’s asylum system, which has allowed us to recommend the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece as of 15 March 2017. This will provide further disincentives against irregular entry and secondary movements, and is an important step for the return to a normally functionally Dublin and Schengen system.” Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Both Italy and Greece have made herculean efforts in recent months in managing the refugee crisis. The fact that today we close the infringement cases on the fingerprinting and registration of migrants is proof of that. This November was a record month for relocation with over 1,400 persons transferred, and Member States must build on this progress by further intensifying and sustaining their efforts. Our aim is to relocate all those in Italy and Greece who are eligible for relocation within the next year. These efforts, together with a lasting reduction in arrivals from Turkey thanks to the EU-Turkey Statement, are necessary building blocks for a gradual return to the Dublin system for Greece.“
Today, the Commission has adopted an Action Plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents, as announced in the Communication on “Enhancing security in a world of mobility” adopted on the occasion of President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union address. The Action Plan provides clear recommendations for Member States to tackle the phenomenon of travel document fraud and outlines a comprehensive set of actions for the Commission to take. Travel document security is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime and contributes to improving border protection and migration management, paving a way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Ensuring the security of travel and identity documents is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Today’s Action Plan proposes concrete operational measures which will allow Member States to combat travel document fraud more effectively, contributing to improving the protection of our borders, ensuring our internal security and better managing migration.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “We know that terrorists have used forged travel documents to travel undetected across the EU. Indeed, many of our security measures rely on secure travel and identity documents – such as the checks at the external border under the Schengen Border Code or behind the border against the Schengen Information System. That’s why Member States and EU agencies must work together to improve the security of travel documents and detection of travel document fraud. Taken together, these measures will help close down existing security gaps.”
Tomorrow, the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) will launch two new tools: the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre said: “The European Commission’s Agenda on migration sets out to make best use of all tools and involve all actors to tackle the challenge. High quality data is crucial for all those involved to make informed decisions. With a multitude of data sources and a user-friendly interface, the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub make finding, accessing and understanding migration data easier. The first big products of the Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography, these tools will help manage migration in all its aspects.” The tools will centralise migration related data to better understand migration flows, trends and their impact on societies across the EU. In line with the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration,the Migration Data Catalogue will classify and organise datasets in a series of predefined domains, including legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and refugees, irregular migration and returns, as well as unaccompanied minors. Building upon the Migration Data Catalogue, the Dynamic Data Hub – a publicly available web-based application – will provide direct access to single datasets through interactive mapping. Both tools will support the European Commission and interested organisations to formulate data-driven policies. So far, data has been fragmented, which meant that available figures were not used efficiently.
On 20 and 21 October, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, will participate in the G6 meeting in Rome with Interior Ministers from Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom as well as the United States Secretary of Homeland Security. Representatives from Europol, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the European Border and Coast Guard, UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Interpol will also be present. Participants will discuss issues relating to migration, security and terrorism, and cybersecurity. In addition, Commissioner King will today participate in a joint hearing of the Committees of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on the steps taken by the European Commission to strengthen the EU’s security and its fight against terrorism. The joint hearing will be streamed live here. Commissioner King will also meet with Prefetto Franco Gabrielli, Head of the Italian Police.
Today, the European Commission will present its first progress report on the implementation of the Partnership Framework with third countries to more effectively manage migration together. Four months after the Commission proposed this new Framework under the European Agenda on Migration and its endorsement by the June European Council, which also called for its swift implementation, the EU’s new partnership approach with countries of origin and transit of migration is starting to yield results. The Partnership Framework is a forward-looking European approach to deepening cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination. Since June, under the leadership of the High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini, EU institutions and EU Member States have jointly put substantial efforts into making this new approach a success. This new approach established a results-oriented approach to mobilise and focus all EU and Member States’ tools and resources for managing migration effectively and addresses short-term solutions to immediate migration pressure, as well as deeper investment to tackling the root causes of irregular migration has started with five priority countries: Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia.
Tomorrow, at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will announce additional funding to under the EU Emergency Support Instrument, together with the Greek Alternate Minister for Migration, Ioannis Mouzalas. “The European Commission continues to put solidarity into action to better manage the refugee crisis. The new funding has the key aim to improve conditions for refugees in Greece, and make a difference ahead of the upcoming winter. Over the past months, we have significantly contributed to restore dignified living conditions, in cooperation with the Greek government and humanitarian organisations. Together, we will continue our work until our job is done”, said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The new emergency support will come on top of the €83 million the European Commission has already provided earlier this year to international organisations and NGOs to address the most pressing humanitarian needs in Greece, including shelters, primary health care, psycho-social support, improved hygiene conditions as well as informal education and safe spaces for children and women. In urgent and exceptional circumstances such as the increased influx of refugees in Europe, the European Commission can fund humanitarian aid for people in need within the EU territory through the Emergency Support Instrument. Until 2018, €700 million of EU-funding will be made available via partner organisations, such as UN agencies, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations.
On 1-3 September, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will visit Italy to hold a Citizens’ Dialogue meeting with members of the public in Sicily and a series of meetings. The First Vice-President will meet with staff from EU agencies at the European Regional Task Force in Catania, which was set up in June 2015 as part of the European Agenda on Migration to coordinate the work of the EU agencies involved in the management of migration crises in the most affected Member States. He will then engage with the public in the open forum format of a Citizens’ Dialogue at the Teatro Greco in Siracusa, Sicily at 19:00 on Thursday 1 September. The event will be live streamed here. On 2 September the First Vice-President will be in Milan meeting business and political leaders as well as innovative entrepreneurs turning the circular economy into a reality. He will then participate in the Ambrosetti Forum on 2-3 September. First Vice-President Timmermans will deliver a speech at the Forum on Saturday morning during a session on ‘The Agenda to Change Europe’, and will then take part in a question and answer session with young business leaders.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is in Berlin today to participate in a “Roundtable on Refugees and Migration” hosted by Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In the afternoon, Commissioner Avramopoulos will hold meetings with Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière and with the Head of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Tasks Peter Altmaier to discuss the latest developments in the fields of migration and security.