European Visa Information System accepted by the EU bodies

By EDRi · June 20, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The legislative package on the Visa Information System (VIS) was
adopted by the European Parliament and a political agreement was
reached within the Justice and Home Affairs Council in the last couple of
weeks. This means that the final steps have been adopted to create the
biggest biometric database in the world.

The VIS Legislative package is formed by the VIS Regulation and the VIS
Decision. The VIS Regulation will allow consulates and other competent
authorities to start using the system when processing visa applications and
to check visas. The VIS Decision will allow police and law enforcement
authorities to consult the data under certain conditions that should ensure
a high level of data protection.

The European Parliament adopted on 7 June 2007 two reports from Baroness
Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK). The first report that adopted the VIS regulation
aimed at preventing an applicant who is refused a visa by one Schengen
country from applying to others (“visa shopping”), but also facilitating the
fight against fraud and checks at external borders.

The second report that adopted the VIS decision stated that the access to
the VIS database should be “limited to those who ‘have a need to know’ and
possess appropriate knowledge about data security and data protection
rules”. The report stresses that “adequate provisions have to be provided
for to ensure the necessary data protection”, and that such data “shall only
be processed for the purposes of the prevention, detection, investigation
and prosecution of terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences.”
The report also states that “personal data obtained…from the VIS shall not
be transferred or made available to a third country or to an international

Less than a week later the VIS package obtained the political agreement in
the Justice and Home Affairs Council, thus making the new system almost a
reality, because the new rules need just to be formally approved by the EU
member-states governments.

The Visa Information System will store data on up to 70 million people
concerning visas for visits to or transit through the Schengen Area. This
data will include biometrics (photographs and fingerprints) and written
information such as the name, address and occupation of the applicant, date
and place of the application, and any decision taken by the Member State
responsible to issue, refuse, annul, revoke or extend the visa. Citizens of
more than 100 countries need a visa to enter the EU.

The Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP insisted that “the VIS is a
border-management system and its principle is not to combat terrorism and
crime. Let us remember that 99.9% of visitors to the EU are legitimate
travellers who do not have any connection with criminality whatsoever, nor
indeed do illegal immigrants or unauthorised entrants.”

The Conservatives have condemned the reports as an invasion of privacy
rights, and have called on UK government to opt out. European Data
Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx expressed his concern: “The circle of
data subjects that can be included in this system is not limited to data of
persons suspected or convicted of specific crimes.”

EU visa information system to help prevent visa shopping (7.06.2007)

Visa Information System (VIS): The JHA-Council reaches a political agreement
on the VIS Regulation and VIS Decision (12.06.2007)

EU to create world’s biggest bio-data pool (13.06.2007)

EU backs biometrics visa database (8.06.2007)

EDRI-gram: EU Visa Database under scrutiny of the European Data Protection
Supervisor (2.02.2006)