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Publication date 19.07.2004

Fruitful meeting of the Salzburg Group

Quick completion of Europol’s information infrastructure and a two-phase evaluation of the Shengen system, these are the most essential issues discussed by the ministers of internal affairs of the “Salzburg Group” during the debate on 15-17 July this year. The group, which met for the fifth time, consists, apart from the Austrian host, of Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Ryszard Kalisz presented a feasibility study on the implementation of a system of improved exchange of data with Europol through a network of liaison officers. In his opinion, a more co-ordinated and active communication between liaison officers from the countries of the Salzburg Forum is possible.

Ryszard Kalisz was also in favour of a quick completion of electronic infrastructure of Europol - EIS system, which will ensure a safe and undelayed communication between liaison officers residing in the Hague and the national contact points delegating them. He suggested preparing and signing a joint declaration on creating a “Network of Co-operation between Liaison Officers of the Salzburg Group” and forming a working group whose task would be to draw up detailed guidelines regulating co-operation within the framework of this initiative.

The partners welcomed the proposal presented by the Polish delegation on the measures connected with the process of evaluating Schengen. It envisages creating a mechanism permitting to evaluate 10 countries (new Member States) in a relatively short time (12-16 months) and beginning the evaluation in the second half of 2006, so that it will be possible to take a decision on Schengen in the year 2007.

This process would be based on the concept used during accession negotiations, i.e. dividing the evaluated regions into chapters which would be temporarily closed, according to the rule that nothing can be closed without having discussed everything.

The process of evaluation would consist of two phases:
I. Evaluation in the following fields: protection of data, land borders, visas, airports, sea borders and police co-operation. It could begin in 2006 and be temporarily closed well before the Schengen Information System of the second generation (SIS II) reaches its operational level (year 2006/2007).
II. Introduced immediately after including the new Member States in SIS II.

The Hungarian party put forward a concept of removing the existing barriers which at present make it impossible to use the Eurodac system for police purposes. The concept envisages adding the records gathered in the national criminal dactyloscopic registers to the Eurodac database and providing Europol, Eurojust and national police authorities with access to the so enriched base. Fingerprints would be taken from persons arrested while illegally crossing the border or detained during an illegal stay. They would be compared not only with the fingerprints of persons seeking asylum, but also with other records of the enlarged Eurodac database.

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