EU borders database defenestrated in Prague?

[] An upgrade to the database that allows members of the EU’s open
borders agreenent to exchange security information could soon be
scrapped, even though €28m has already been spent on the project.

The future of the delayed Schengen Information System II (SIS II) is
in doubt according to a meeting of home affairs ministers in Prague
yesterday, EUobserver reports.

Czech interior minister Ivan Lager said: "[Either] we dismantle all
the problems, the SIS II works, and there is a fixed date when [the
upgrade work is] over. Or, at the end of our presidency, the result
will be that the problems are so serious that we have to follow the
contingency plan."

A "contingency plan" is currently being drawn up. The Czech Republic
took over presidency of the Council of the European Union this month
and will hold it until the end of June.

The Schengen zone covers all EU member states, except the UK and
Ireland, and recent accession nations Romania and Bulgaria. Non-EU
members Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are also included. Citizens
from Schengen countries are able to cross borders without passport

Agreed in 2002, SIS II was intended to expand the types of data on
travellers that Schengen states could exchange, to include fingerprints
and photgraphs as well as passport numbers. But the project has hit
major technical problems, and in 2007 new EU member states were invited
to join the old database instead.

Now some ministers are publicly questioning whether the further €40m
earmarked for SIS II would be good money after bad. Austria’s interior
minister Maria Fekter said: "It is unacceptable to put money into
developing this if the future of the project is not clear."

Peter Hustinx, the EU’s data protection supervision, has been critical of the potential privacy implications of SIS II and EU immigration technology projects.