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Tighter EU terrorism tracking measures take effect

Brussels, Belgium | AFP | Tighter measures to fight crime and terrorism in the European Union took effect on Friday as the 28-nation bloc seeks to improve security by sharing information more efficiently.

New rules that strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS) should help border guards and law enforcement agencies, and provide more protection for missing children and disabled adults, the European Commission said in a statement.

Member states are now “obliged to create a SIS alert for all cases related to terrorist offences,” decreasing the chances that suspects fall through the cracks.

By the end of next year, Europol will also be informed of all SIS terrorism alerts, casting a net across Europe as a whole.

“We are closing a critical security gap today in the EU,” migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in the statement.

“Member states will have an obligation to introduce terrorism alerts into the reinforced Schengen Information System. Anyone posing a threat should not go unnoticed anymore,” he added.

EU security commissioner Julian King said the bloc sought “to strengthen information sharing and make our information systems work together more effectively.”

The new rules would also respect strengthened EU personal data protection regulations, the statement said.

French jihadist Medhi Nemmouche, 33, is an example of the threat the tighter rules are supposed to protect against.

In May 2014, he killed four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum despite having been listed on the SIS in December 2012.

German border agents recorded his return from Syria via several intermediate stops in March 2014 and notified France, but Nemmouche was nonetheless able to make his way to Belgium and carry out the attack.

Entry bans and decisions to return people staying “irregularly” in the EU are also to be recorded in the system.

In addition, stronger provisions are now in place regarding missing children and people in need of protection such as the mentally disabled.

The SIS contains almost 79 million records and was consulted five billion times in 2017, the commission said.

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