“Portugal participates and gladly shares the joy of all the Member States in having managed to operationalise the new Schengen information system, which will allow to increase the control and regulation of flows at the external borders of the EU, for the purposes, in particular, of controlling and combating organised crime”, declared José Luís Carneiro, after leaving a Council of Ministers of Home Affairs of the European Union (EU).

The enhanced version of the Schengen Information System, operational since Tuesday and the subject of an exchange of views between the Ministers of Internal Affairs of the 27 countries, assumes, according to the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI), “a fundamental importance for strengthening police cooperation and preventing and combating crime in the EU”.

With this new version, the system makes it possible, in particular, to provide the competent authorities of the Member States, as well as EU agencies – such as Europol, Frontex and Eurojust - with “a broader source of biometric information and DNA profiles, new alerts and new categories for investigations and stolen goods, always in strict compliance with the applicable data protection rules”, emphasises the MAI.

In the field of police cooperation, the new SIS now “contains biometric information not linked to known individuals that will help identify criminals”, explains the Ministry, specifying that “fingerprints or palm prints discovered at the scene of serious crimes or terrorist crimes will be entered into the SIS in the form of new alerts on unknown suspects or wanted persons”.

DNA profiles are also included in the system, to "facilitate the identification of missing persons in cases where fingerprint data, photographs or facial images are not available or are not suitable for identification", with the issuance of new alerts for investigation verification purposes, which will allow national authorities to collect information relevant to ongoing investigations.

The entry into operation of this updated version of the SIS took place simultaneously in all Member States and, according to the Ministry, Portugal fulfilled all its obligations, namely through SEF.

The Schengen area of free movement allows citizens to circulate in that area without the need for a passport and controls are abolished, although temporary exceptions are foreseen.