Part of the EU's strategy in fighting terrorism is to keep potential terrorists out by maintaining strict controls at external borders. The two measures proposed on 24 November 2005 seek to do this by improving the databases of information on visa and asylum seekers and widening access to them by relevant member state authorities.
Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini described the measures as "essential in the fight against terrorism and organised crime".
The first objective of the package is to lay down rules whereby Europol and member states security services can have access to the Visa Information System (VIS), a database containing information on all visa applications which will include fingerprint data. The second proposal concerns the future development of VIS and two further databases: EURODAC and the Schengen Information System (SIS).
EURODAC, set up in 2003, contains the fingerprints of all those who seek asylum in the EU. The availability of the data to all member states avoids double applications and ensures that the asylum seeker is dealt with by the correct state, further to the Dublin II Regulation setting out a common EU asylum procedure.
The SIS I system, which began in 1995, contains information allowing the tracking of criminal suspects within the EU's internal borders. Its new incarnation, SIS II, will contain biometric information and European Arrest Warrant details. It will also allow for alerts to be issued to all member states for any wanted person.