The EU has developed large scale IT systems to allow national border guards, police, customs and judicial authorities to exchange and compare information in their databases, such as visa and biometric data or asylum requests. These systems must function 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Launched on 1 December 2012, eu-LISA is based in Tallinn, although operational management is done in Strasbourg and there is also a backup site in Sankt Johan im Pongau in Austria. Previously these IT systems had been managed by France at the request of the other member states, but Parliament has campaigned since 2001 to have them run at EU level rather than at the intergovernmental level.
The agency is responsible for running the EU's three IT systems in the area of home affairs. This includes the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), one of the largest information systems for public security in the world; Eurodac, a database of asylum seekers' fingerprints; and the Visa Information Systems, which allows countries that are in the Schengen area to exchange visa data. It is up to eu-LISA to make sure the systems are operational around the clock, according to data security and data protection requirements. […]
"I welcome the outcome of today's vote in the LIBE committee on the last two outstanding pieces in the asylum package: the Asylum Procedures Directive and EURODAC Regulation. The EU needs a common asylum system that guarantees protection and solidarity to the most vulnerable ones. We have been working for years to build up an area with high standards ensuring that asylum seekers are treated equally in an open and fair system, wherever they apply for protection. I am very pleased that we are now only a step away from formal adoption by the Home Affairs Council and the European Parliament of all the proposals presented by the Commission to reach this goal", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. […]
Some 460 refugee families from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia will soon be able to improve their living conditions thanks to housing projects launched as part of the Western Balkans Regional Housing Programme. The first four projects under the Programme were approved recently. These amount to a total value of EUR 8.7 million, out of which EUR 7.1 million will be financed by the RHP Fund. The housing solutions available include construction of apartment buildings, pre-fabricated houses and provision of building materials for the renovation of existing houses.
This flagship initiative of the Sarajevo process demonstrates the renewed commitment from the four countries to put an end to the protracted refugee situation from the 1991-1995 conflicts in the region. In total, some 74,000 vulnerable persons will benefit as agreed last year at the International Donors' Conference in Sarajevo. The programme, to be implemented directly by the four partner countries, brings together donors and international stakeholders, including the European Union, Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), UNHCR, OSCE and the United States.
"The Regional Housing Programme is a good example how we can deal in a sustainable way with difficult issues related to refugees and displacement. I am very pleased the construction and rehabilitation of the first houses will now start and that the first families will soon be able to move into their new and better homes", said European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. […]
New rules for dealing with asylum seekers in the EU are being voted on by the EP's civil liberties committee on Wednesday 24 April. It concerns two deals with the Council for a unified EU asylum procedure that would clarify asylum seekers' position, but also give the police access to a database with their fingerprints to help them in the fight against terrorism. In both cases MEPs secured better protection for people seeking sanctuary in the EU.
The first proposal concerns an update of the asylum procedures directive from 2005. The idea is to introduce a single EU-wide procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection within six months as at the moment there are significant differences in how member states treat asylum seekers.
The new rules would ensure that anyone in need of special treatment - for example because of their age, disability, illness etc. - would get adequate support, while unaccompanied children would be appointed a qualified representative by the national authorities. The directive being updated is one of the five acts forming the backbone of the Common European Asylum System. […]
The European Commission has adopted a decision to provide additional financial support to Lebanon to mitigate the impact of the Syrian crisis in the country. Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood, Policy Štefan Füle, said: “Lebanon receives the highest number of people fleeing from Syria – Syrians as well as Palestine refugees from Syria - and we know that it puts this country under enormous strain. The hospitality and generosity displayed by the Lebanese towards their neighbours is admirable and commendable. The EU remains committed to assisting Lebanon in its response to the refugee crisis”.
At the same time, he welcomed Lebanon's comprehensive response plan to deal with the refugee crisis and conveyed the EU´s appreciation of the fact that Lebanon keeps its borders open to people fleeing the violence in the neighbouring country. The European assistance will focus on capacity building in Lebanese institutions to deal with the crisis, improving access to educational and early childhood development services for both Syrian refugees and those Lebanese communities hosting refugees often in their own homes, empowering local communities socially and economically, strengthening existing structures for the care of children and other vulnerable groups and providing support to Palestine refugees from Syria. Out of the €30 million announced today to help Lebanon to cope with the refugee crisis, €5 million would be designated for Palestine refugees from Syria. […]