eu-LISA's Digital Newsletter

The eu-LISA Bits & Bytes provides an overview of the Agency's recent progress and the state-of-play on the development and management of the large-scale IT systems that govern the Schengen Area's internal security.

In this issue:

… and more.

Past & future editions



Large-Scale IT Systems – Evolution and Outlook

eu-LISA's agenda for 2021 revolves around developing three new large-scale IT systems (EES, ETIAS, ECRIS-TCN), managing and updating the existing three systems (Eurodac, SIS, VIS), as well as working on achieving Interoperability between all systems.

For an overview or recap on how these systems help us ensure a safer Europe, go to our dedicated portal: Discover eu-LISA


Systems' Availability
eu-LISA continued to ensure the expected high level of performance and availability for SIS, VIS, Eurodac and their sub-systems during 2021, despite the subsequent waves of the COVID-19 pandemic that swept Europe.

Systems' Development
The implementation of the new Interoperability architecture for border management and internal security in the EU is the most complex and challenging transformation programme that has been launched in the last decades. As the pandemic generated difficulties for both Member States and contractors, the European Council mandated eu-LISA, the European Commission and Member States to develop an alternative timeline for the deployment of the new systems. The Agency has been working intensively, in close collaboration with experts from the Member States, the Commission, as well as eu-LISA's governing bodies, exploring a number of alternative scenarios for the implementation of EES, also taking into consideration the effects on ETIAS' implementation. The approach of the Agency was to keep the ultimate objective of having the new Interoperability architecture implemented by the end of 2023 unchanged.

Proposed Timeline
The alternative implementation scenario should allocate reasonable time for implementation of the planned activities at European and national level and should include all building blocks of the interoperability architecture (EES, ETIAS, Interoperability components, ECRIS-TCN and SIS). The milestones are divided as follows:


EES

Milestones at central level:

  • Integration tests
  • Compliance tests with the Member States
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Milestones at national level:

  • Preparations for the compliance tests
  • Start of compliance tests with the national systems and infrastructure in four groups
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Entry-into-Operations: end of September 2022

ETIAS

Milestones at central level:

  • Integration tests
  • Compliance tests with the Member States
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Milestones at national level:

  • Preparations for the compliance tests
  • Start of compliance tests with the national systems and infrastructure in four groups
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Entry-into-Operations: mid-May 2023

For technical and operational reasons, the minimum time between Entry-into-Operations of EES and ETIAS should be at least 6 months.


Carrier Registration for EES & ETIAS

Since September 2021, registration for EES and ETIAS is available for air carriers, sea carriers and international carriers transporting groups overland by coach via bit.ly/eu-LISA-Carriers.

The registration enables carriers to receive all information necessary for the preparation of their respective systems and business processes in order to consult the EU IT systems managed by eu-LISA, as the latter is regulated in the EES and ETIAS legislation.


IO Components

Milestones at central level:

  • Integration tests
  • Compliance tests with the Member States
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Milestones at national level:

  • Finalisation of the Interface Control Documents
  • Implementation of the national activities related to Interoperability
  • Start of compliance tests with the national systems and infrastructure
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

IO components to be implemented by the end of 2023

ECRIS-TCN

Milestones at central level:

  • Integration tests
  • Compliance tests with the Member States
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Milestones at national level:

  • Finalisation of the Interface Control Documents
  • Implementation of the national activities related to ECRIS-TCN
  • Start of compliance tests with the national systems and infrastructure
  • Preparations for Entry-into-Operations

Entry-into-Operations: May 2023

Dependencies with

SIS

One of the legal prerequisites for entry-into-operations of ETIAS is its interconnection with SIS, which can be implemented only after the entry-into-operations of the SIS Recast. To ensure a coordinated and smooth transition from SIS II to the new SIS, and considering the revised implementation timeline for ETIAS, the SIS Recast will enter-into-operations no later than end of June 2022.

Dependencies with

VIS

The implementation of the revised VIS Regulation will go beyond the end of 2023 and will have a timeline parallel to the one for the implementation of the Interoperability architecture. To fulfil legal requirements for the entry-into-operations of ETIAS, the current VIS systems needs to be integrated into the Interoperability architecture.

Summary

On 9 December 2021, political consensus was reached as well, when the Justice and Home Affairs Council approved the new timeline for sub-components, while maintaining the original deadline of end-2023 for the deployment of the new Interoperability architecture.

The Commission fully supports the new timeline - it ensures that full interoperability can still be achieved as planned by end-2023, said Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson during the meeting.

There is a high number of tasks that have to be executed in parallel and very limited margin for major setbacks. It also involves a range of risks, but it is important to emphasize that considering the complexity of the work at stake, a risk-free scenario does not exist, highlighted eu-LISA Executive Director Krum Garkov, adding: "Risks are an essential part of the project work and need to be managed pro-actively by all actors involved (...) The time for discussions and deskwork is over. Now we all need to focus our energy and efforts on implementation and to do our utmost to achieve all milestones on the way and the overall objective of having the interoperability architecture in place by the end of 2023."

Read more

eu-LISA's New Visual Identity

eu-LISA is excited to reveal a new fresh "look" based on a re-designed logo.
See for yourself – drag the slider to the left:

The new logo is the focal point of our new visual identity, as are the related graphic elements that create our visual language. To be able to speak this language correctly, we need to follow the Visual Identity Manual.

Learn more and even more.

Browse the manual

AI Centre of Excellence

In our previous issue we talked about Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives at eu-LISA – now let's take a look at the broader context.


While there is agreement around the idea that AI should become a practical support tool for law enforcement practitioners, helping bolster Europe's internal security, an important question has so far remained unanswered:
How do you find the right balance between AI and data protection, data privacy and fundamental rights?

In April 2021, the European Commission published a 'package' concerning AI, seeking to address some of these concerns, but also laying down a set of harmonised rules and amending legislation. The AI package is of particular interest to eu-LISA, as it covers the areas of law enforcement, border management, migration and asylum.

According to the reviewed Coordinated Plan on AI (started in 2018), the Commission intends to focus on funding networks of AI centres of excellence and to set up a European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics under the Horizon Europe research project.

The Commission's proposal also covers restrictions on the use of remote biometric identification systems and, based on a proportionate risk-based approach, breaks down AI applications/ systems into the following categories:

  • Minimal risk: not regulated;
  • With specific transparency obligations: humans must be notified they are interacting with AI systems;
  • High-risk: mandatory requirements to ensure the AI systems will be trustworthy and will protect citizens’ fundamental rights;
  • Prohibited: any kind of action resulting in physical/ psychological harm, social scoring, remote biometric identification in public spaces.

According to the proposed regulation, EU Agencies, such as eu-LISA, can have their own regulatory sandbox, that would allow the development and testing of AI systems in an environment completely separated from the systems they already have in use.

Similar to parameters and clauses foreseen in the field of data protection, the European Data Protection Supervisor EDPS shall act as the market surveillance authority, having the right to impose administrative fines on EU Institutions, Agencies and Bodies for infringements or non-compliance.

eu-LISA has also been active in the domain this year. In a workshop on AI and law enforcement that took place in April, eu-LISA's top management stressed that, ultimately, AI is just a tool that helps human decision-making and does not replace it.

While it is a well-known fact that humans have biases, and so will the algorithms created by them, there are a number of measures that can be taken in order to reduce those biases, namely:

  • Training the algorithms with big large data-sets and ensuring the quality of the data: AI algorithms are only as reliable as the data on which they are trained; training using synthetic data or small data-sets could yield higher error rates;
  • Avoid black-boxes: the basis for the AI algorithms' decision making needs to be apparent and can be subject to external audit; this is also important for the end-users to understand and ultimately trust the algorithmic decision proposals;
  • Continuous training of the AI algorithms: AI is not just a simple software tool, its real nature must be recognised and taken into account by constantly teaching AI to act in a responsible manner;
  • Training the people who will be using the algorithms: by assessing the decisions that law enforcement officers make on the basis of AI suggestions, it will be possible to assess those decisions and any inherent biases in their decision-making are identified and addressed.

In May, the Agency hosted the first meeting of a new Working Group on Artificial Intelligence, that will identify use cases for implementing AI solutions in the large-scale IT systems entrusted to eu-LISA, to maximise the added value of the services the Agency provides to its stakeholders.

“AI creates many opportunities to enhance and strengthen internal security, border management, migration management and to increase efficiency of practitioners”, said eu-LISA Executive Director Krum Garkov during the meeting. “The Working Group will make a direct contribution to the implementation of the new Security Union strategy, and will help the EU to develop and keep its strategic independence in the area of AI.”    Read more

The November edition of our Industry Roundtable also focused on AI and its many implications. Read more

Early next year, eu-LISA and fellow Agency Eurojust will publish a joint report on AI supporting cross-border cooperation in criminal justice.

eu-LISA Quiz

Europe Day 2021 marked the launch of eu-LISA's interactive Quiz, which challenges users to test their knowledge on topics regarding how the Schengen Area and the European Union work, and how eu-LISA does its part in ensuring free movement and safe travel across Europe.

Available in English, French and Estonian, the quiz contains 30 questions divided into 5 categories, addressing trivia that most citizen will inevitably ask themselves at one point, such as "If a country is part of the Schengen Area, is it also automatically a part of the EU?" or "Where does the name 'Schengen' come from?"

Several members of the public sent us screenshots of their results after completing our quiz, and they all looked like this:

Want to see if you can match their performance?

 

iframe embedded via quiz.eulisa.europa.eu

10 Years of eu-LISA

2022 is a special year, as it marks our 10th anniversary.

For the past decade, the Agency has focused on transforming traditional models for border and migration management into digital ones. In doing so, eu-LISA has worked in close cooperation with EU Institutions and Member States to ensure that new technologies are trustworthy, bring added value to people, and are used solely for legitimate purposes. This is also the way ahead for eu-LISA in the future.

We have evolved as an organisation and as a strong and capable team of experts, entrusted to implement the most complex and challenging transformation programme that the EU has launched in the last decades. The progress made working efficiently and transparently with all our stakeholders, combined with the dedication and hard work of every eu-LISA employee, makes us proud of our achievements, despite the challenges and difficulties faced.

The first 10 years of eu-LISA have been exciting. We would like to thank all our staff, partners, and stakeholders for their cooperation, commitment and achievements during our journey. In everything we do during the next decades, we will keep facilitating the implementation of one of the EU citizens’ fundamental rights – the right to free movement within the Schengen Area.

Throughout 2022 we will have numerous online and offline products to celebrate an adventurous decade, so stay tuned.

Season's Greetings

eu-LISA continuously strives to ensure the freedom, security, and rights of the EU’s citizens and its future generations.

Thanks to our team’s skills, expertise, and efforts, for the past 10 years we have been developing large-scale IT Systems for the Schengen Area, allowing all of us to move freely, safely, and seamlessly.

Happenings

  • Nov 29

    eu-LISA Runner-up at the EU Public Sector Awards 2021

    The headquarters building of eu-LISA in Tallinn, Estonia has been awarded the second place in the 'Green' category at the European Public Sector Award (EPSA) 2021 competition, which took place in Maastricht.

    Read more

  • Nov 23

    Frontex and eu-LISA Sign Cooperation Plan

    Frontex and eu-LISA concluded an agreement to strengthen their cooperation. The cooperation plan was signed by Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri and eu-LISA Executive Director Krum Garkov during the Heads of Justice and Home Affairs Agencies annual meeting in Warsaw.

    Read more

  • Nov 22

    EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies Present Their 2021 Key Achievements

    The nine European Justice and Home Affairs Agencies came together to wrap up the activities of the network in 2021 and present its key achievements. The event also gathered high-level representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, European External Action Service, the General Secretariat of the Council, as well as the current Slovenian Presidency of the Council and the upcoming French one.

    Read more

  • Oct 25

    INTERPOL Delegation Visits eu-LISA

    On 21 October 2021, eu-LISA hosted a delegation from the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) at its headquarters in Tallinn, Estonia.

    Read more

  • Oct 10

    eu-LISA and Eurojust Consolidate Their Cooperation in the Justice Domain

    Establishing access for Eurojust to eu-LISA's new large-scale IT system ECRIS-TCN, as well as the Interoperability architecture that will strengthen the Justice and Home Affairs domain, is the foundation of the three-year Cooperation Plan.

    Read more

  • Jul 26

    Bulgaria and Romania Gain Read-only Access to VIS

    As of 26 July 2021, Bulgaria and Romania have been successfully connected to the Visa Information System (VIS) for passive (read-only) access, allowing them to view visa applications and access e-mail services, allowing for smoother visa processing.

    Read more

  • Jul 15-16

    Discussing Digitalisation and AI with Europe’s Justice Ministers

    eu-LISA attended the Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers organised and hosted by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

    Read about Migration and Asylum & Digitalisation and AI

  • Jul 1

    Bilateral Meeting Between Heads of eu-LISA and Eurojust

    eu-LISA and Eurojust met online to discuss their cooperation plan for 2021-2023. Krum Garkov, Executive Director of eu-LISA, and Ladislav Hamran, President of Eurojust, exchanged views regarding future joint contributions on digitalising the criminal justice systems in the EU.

    Read more

  • Jun 16

    Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Visits eu-LISA Headquarters

    An overview of eu-LISA and its role in support the European Union’s visa policy was also discussed, with a special focus on VIS and ETIAS.

    Read more

  • Jun 16

    eu-LISA Hosts Estonian Ministry of Interior

    Meetings with host country authorities are always very productive and boost eu-LISA's constructive relations with key Member States.

    Read more

  • Apr 30

    Delegation of the Estonian Ministry of Justice Visits eu-LISA

    ​The meeting focused on the digitalisation of the EU's justice domain and the development of the e-CODEX platform. As a champion of digitalisation, Estonia has valuable experience and a strong interest in the development of the EU's Digital Justice hub in Tallinn.

    Read more

  • Apr 28

    JHA Counsellors Briefed by eu-LISA

    eu-LISA hosted its 7th annual meeting with the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Counsellors and other stakeholders.

    Read more

  • Apr 28

    eu-LISA Hosts Slovenian Ministry of Interior

    After almost a year of virtual meetings, eu-LISA had the pleasure of hosting a delegation from the Slovenian Ministry of Interior at its headquarters in Tallinn today.

    Read more

  • Apr 19

    Strengthening Ties with the City of Strasbourg

    eu-LISA had the pleasure of a virtual meeting with Ms Jeanne Barseghian, Mayor of the city of Strasbourg, and other members of her office, to brief on the progress the Agency is making in the preparations of our new premises in Illkirch and the extension work going on at our Operational site.

    Read more

  • Mar 16

    eu-LISA and the Commission Strengthen Collaboration in Research & Innovation

    eu-LISA and the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission (DG HOME) signed dedicated Terms of Reference to improve collaboration on research and innovation relevant to the JHA domain.

    Read more

  • Mar 4

    Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Senior Estonian Officials Annual Briefing Held Online

    eu-LISA hosted its 7th high-level meeting with Ambassadors and representatives from diplomatic missions in Estonia. Already a traditional annual event, the briefing is also attended by senior officials from the Estonian administration.

    Read more

  • Feb 17

    EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies’ Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

    The agencies' individual and joint efforts to deal with the impact of the pandemic have been captured in a Joint Paper on the COVID-19 response by the JHA agencies.

    Read more

  • Feb 2

    eu-LISA Management Board Meetings Summary Available Online

    To further increase transparency and provide awareness regarding its activities, eu-LISA started publishing the summaries of its Management Board meetings.

    Read more

  • Jan 8

    ENISA and eu-LISA - Cooperation for a More Digitally Resilient Europe

    Executive Directors Juhan Lepassaar (ENISA) and Krum Garkov (eu-LISA) signed a multiannual Cooperation Plan. The plan sets out activities that will provide benefits through joint actions to the Agencies themselves and to the EU Member States.

    Read more

eu-LISA - The Schengen Area Information Engine

The European Agency eu-LISA was established in 2012 to manage large-scale information systems in the area of freedom, security and justice. Today, we are at the forefront of Europe's information-driven border management and internal security, facilitating the implementation of one of EU citizens' fundamental rights – the right to free movement within the Schengen Area.

The headquarters of eu-LISA are in Tallinn, Estonia, whilst its operational centre is in Strasbourg, France. There is also a technical business continuity site for the systems under management based in Sankt Johann im Pongau, Austria, and a Liaison Office in Brussels, Belgium.

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