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Today and tomorrow, an informal meeting of the heads of SIRENE Bureaux is taking place in Ljubljana, with a special focus on new developments in the Schengen Information System (SIS). The meeting has been organised by Slovenia, as the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in accordance with the Schengen acquis. The Slovenian Police will host this meeting as a physical gathering for the first time after the last three presidencies. The purpose of the meeting is to transfer knowledge and experience, but the long-term goal remains a common European approach to improving standards of work in this area.

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In his address, Janez Žabkar, Head of the SIRENE Section of the Slovenian Police, stated that: "the SIRENE Bureaux, which are the cornerstone of international police cooperation in the Schengen Area, play an exceptional role in ensuring security in the EU. That is why informal meetings such as today's are an important opportunity to address common challenges brought about by the new developments within the SIS."

The Director of the Criminal Police Directorate, Vojko Urbas, welcomed the experts and highlighted that: "the key factors in ensuring security in the EU are the SIS, which was set up to address the security deficit created by the abolition of the internal borders of the Schengen Area, the SIRENE Bureaux, which are responsible for exchanging supplementary information and providing support to end-users, the Commission, which helps to shape the EU's overall strategy, proposes new laws and monitors their implementation, and eu-LISA, which is responsible for planning and for the operational part of what is a complex and large information system."

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The member state representatives today assessed the quality of cooperation between the Bureaux and discussed the technical and organisational changes needed to meet the challenges posed by new developments. They also discussed various aspects of the SIS overhaul, such as recent legislation and the public information campaign to inform the public about the changes, while the participating agencies Europol and Frontex presented the current arrangements they have in place to manage change.

The overhaul of the SIS is expected to bring new functionalities and actions and to extend access to additional users in the first half of 2022. New alert categories will be added and the alerts issued will contain more data to provide member states with better and more reliable information. To this end, the experts also discussed tools and modern approaches to information-sharing and the use of SIS functionalities.

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On the second day of the meeting, eu-LISA, the agency responsible for the technical support of the SIS, will present its annual statistics, while representatives of individual countries will discuss the use of artificial intelligence in ensuring the security of the Schengen Area, the issue of missing persons and the training of SIRENE operators and all SIS end-users.

Attending the informal meeting are the heads and representatives of the SIRENE Bureaux and their permanent partners from the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, the European Commission, the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), Europol, Frontex and CEPOL.

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