The border control authorities in Member States should focus more on entering complete data promptly in the EU’s information systems that support surveillance of the Schengen area’s external borders, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA). The Schengen IT systems are a strong tool and increasingly used by border guards when performing border checks. However, some data is currently not included in the systems, while other data is either incomplete or not entered in a timely manner. This reduces the efficiency of some border checks, say the auditors.
The creation of the Schengen area, which abolished border checks between 22 participating Member States and four other European countries, reinforced the importance of effective control and surveillance of the area’s external borders to prevent crime and terrorism and to control migration. According to the estimates, the EU budget provided over €600 million to set up the IT systems to facilitate the work of border guards.
The auditors examined how well the main IT systems for border control allowed border guards to check individuals entering the Schengen area at authorised border-crossing points - land, seaports and airports. The IT systems concerned checks on persons and objects, visas and asylum, fingerprint comparison and passenger records. The auditors carried out visits to Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland.
“Border guards use the data in the IT systems as the basis for deciding whether to let a person through, but sometimes they do not get adequate information from the system to make that decision” said Bettina Jakobsen, the ECA Member responsible for the report. “Our audit aimed at identifying aspects in the design and use of these systems that can help border guards do their job more efficiently.”
Press Release: Schengen border control IT systems are well designed but need timelier and more complete data, warn EU Auditors