Remarks by Julian King at a press conference on interoperability
Today we present an ambitious new approach to security, borders and migration: how we manage information, how we use it, and how we make it available to law enforcement.
We have a number of different information systems in migration and security; they are vital tools for those on the frontline. Yet they have developed piecemeal – so the information is often fragmented.
Police and border guards shouldn't face blind spots. They should have the information they need, when and where they need it: data that is complete, accurate and reliable.
Dimitris just mentioned some high-profile cases where terrorists used multiple identities. These are not just isolated cases. We know from Member States studies that there are too many criminals and others registered in EU databases under false identities. We clearly cannot accept that.
This proposal will ensure we can connect the dots and close the information gaps. So let me outline three examples of just how we will make that happen in practice.
First, by ensuring we make best use of existing data. When border guards or the police are verifying identity documents, they will get all the information they need on a single screen. Rather than having to decide which database to check, they will have a "one stop shop", simultaneously checking against multiple systems in line with existing access rights. So they can get a complete picture of who's in front of them, without delay.
Second, law enforcement will be able to detect multiple identities and counter identity fraud. By matching biometric data, like fingerprints, they will be able to scan and detect information in existing databases. That will immediately flag cases of fraudulent or multiple identity to police or border guards.
Third, under our proposals, police will be able to carry out rapid and effective police checks within a territory. When verifying the identity of a third-country national, they can get access to the identity data of persons recorded in all EU information systems and detect any multiple identities.
These checks are a major part of our work to lift internal border restrictions and get "back to Schengen". You can't run the risk of people disappearing into an information black hole once they are within the shared Schengen space.
The proposal also streamlines the rules for police officers - conducting investigations in cases of serious crime or terrorism - to access information on third-country nationals in non-law-enforcement databases such as Eurodac or the future Entry-Exit System.
Security consistently ranks among the major concern European citizens express. If you asked our citizens today, they'd probably expect that these checks were happening already.
But some of these things are not possible today. Or they are technically possible, but so awkward or lengthy that they aren't done. That needs to change.
I would just stress the point on data protection that Dimitris has made. These proposals are all made within a sound legal framework, one that builds in data protection by design.
We are not proposing here to collect new data; we are not putting all our data into one big pool; existing access and data protection rules continue to apply. Indeed, in some cases access will be more streamlined and more proportionate.
We have been consulting for some time, and our proposals have taken account of helpful input from the EU Data Protection Supervisor, and the Fundamental Rights Agency.
By managing our data better we can enhance security and protect our borders.
Of course, this is not the only way we are helping Member States keep their citizens secure. Today's Security Union report provides updates on several other elements.
The Passenger Name Record Directive is a central plank of our strategy to share information against terrorism, but seven Member States are still not sufficiently advanced in their preparations. We are in contact with these countries to make sure that all have their Passenger Name Record system in place by May 2018.
We continue to implement measures to support the protection of public spaces; we had a meeting of experts from across the EU, the High Risk Security Network, in November, and there is a first meeting with private sector operators next week, covering topics including car rental.
And we are preparing new legislation for next year to facilitate cross-border access to financial information for counter-terrorism, and to tighten controls on access to explosive precursors.
On Radicalisation, our High-Level Expert Group has just delivered its first set of recommendations which we discussed in last week's ministerial Council. And last week we convened Member States and internet companies in the EU internet forum. There is progress in the fight against online terrorist propaganda, but still a way to go. Early next year, in the next Security Union report, we will set out how we will follow up on these areas.
We can't eliminate all risk – but we can - we are - progressively making it harder for those who wish to cause us harm.