The Government have decided not to opt out of a new EU proposal for a regulation governing the use of the second generation Schengen information system (SIS II) for police and judicial co-operation purposes (“the draft police co-operation regulation”), and not to opt in to a proposal for a regulation on the use of SIS II for the return of illegally staying non-European economic area (EEA) nationals (“the draft returns regulation”).
SIS II is an EU-wide system that circulates alerts on people and objects that are of interest to law enforcement agencies across the EU. This includes people who are wanted for extradition on European arrest warrants, stolen vehicles, lost or cancelled travel documents and suspected criminals and terrorists on whom information is sought.
The proposed police co-operation regulation will replace the legislation that currently governs SIS II’s use for that purpose. The UK has participated in this aspect of SIS II since April 2015. Our law enforcement agencies benefit from this, for example by being able to detain at the border people who are wanted under European arrest warrants and to obtain intelligence from police forces across the EU on suspected criminals and security risks. The draft regulation contains a number of proposals that would update SIS II’s capabilities, for example allowing it to store a wider range of biometric data and permitting alerts to be created to protect children who are at risk of going missing. There are some changes we will seek, in particular to maintain member states’ control over when alerts are created, but the Government believe we will be in a better position to do this by not opting out and remaining full participants in the negotiation.
The proposed returns regulation would allow member states to use SIS II to circulate alerts on non-EEA nationals who have been made subject to removal decisions. Therefore, the UK will not opt in to the draft returns regulation.
The decisions announced here have no implications for our general opt out from the internal border-free zone established by Schengen.
Until the UK leaves the EU it remains a full member, and the Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to, or opt out of, forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting our civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration.