Towards a comprehensive European migration policy
Proposal for a Council Decision concerning access for consultation of the Visa Information System (VIS) by the authorities of Member States responsible for internal security and by Europol for the purposes of the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and of other serious criminal offences [COM(2005) 600 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The national authorities responsible for internal security and Europol officials are authorised to access VIS data.
Access by the national authorities responsible for internal security
The national authorities listed in the Annex to the proposal for a Decision are authorised to consult the VIS within the limits of their powers.
There are rules governing access.
First, it must be necessary for the purpose of investigating, preventing or detecting serious criminal offences.
Second, a specific case must make it necessary to consult VIS data. A specific case exists in the following instances:
- a specific event determined by date and place;
- where there are serious grounds for believing that an individual will commit a serious criminal offence or that he or she has a relevant connection with such an individual.
VIS data may be consulted only if there are reasonable grounds for believing that consultation will contribute to the prevention, detection or investigation of serious criminal offences.
Lastly, the VIS data which may be used are limited to:
- surname, surname at birth, first names, sex and date, place and country of birth;
- nationality of the visa applicant;
- type and number of the travel document, the authority which issued it and the date of issue;
- main destination and duration of the intended stay;
- purpose of travel, date of arrival and departure;
- border of first entry or transit route;
- type of visa and number of the visa sticker.
Access is given further to a duly reasoned written or electronic request. Applications should be sent to the national central access point, a list of which is set out in another annex to the proposal. This is a single authority designated by each Member State comprising officials duly empowered to access the VIS.
Access by Europol
Access to the VIS for consultation by Europol takes place within the limits of that organisation's mandate. Europol designates a specialist unit whose officials act as the central access point authorised to consult the VIS.
Processing of information obtained by Europol via the VIS is subject to the consent of the Member State which entered the data in question.
The conditions governing access to the VIS by the national authorities responsible for internal security also apply to Europol officials.
Protection of personal data
Personal data are processed by:
- the national authorities responsible for internal security as per the Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation;
- Europol by virtue of the Europol Convention, under the supervision of the independent joint supervisory body;
- the European Commission by virtue of Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000. The way in which these data are processed is checked by the European Data Protection Supervisor.
Each Member State, Europol and the Commission keep records of all data processing operations so that checks can be made to ensure that operations are lawful.
Each Member State and Europol set up and maintain, at their expense, the technical infrastructure necessary to implement this Decision. They also bear the costs of accessing the VIS.
Advisory Committee, monitoring and evaluation
The Commission is assisted by an Advisory Committee comprising representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.
Two years after the VIS starts operating, and every two years thereafter, the Commission will submit to the European Parliament and the Council a report on the technical aspects of its operations.
Four years after the VIS starts operating, and every four years thereafter, the Commission will produce an overall evaluation of the system.
On 7 March 2005 the Council adopted conclusions stating that the authorities of the Member States responsible for internal security should be guaranteed access to the VIS "in order to achieve fully the aim of improving internal security and the fight against terrorism."
This proposal for a Decision follows up those conclusions by establishing a legal base enabling these authorities and Europol to access the VIS.
Consultation CNS 2005/0232
Last updated: 14.9.2007