The second phase of the EU's Schengen Information System, plagued by delays, has been an embarrassment for the Commission's department for home affairs since 2006. An end is in sight: a series of recent tests suggests that the system's central component will be ready for launch toward the end of next year.
But scarred by past experience, the Commission is careful to stress that some member states might have problems entering and calling up data from the central database, and that SIS can work properly only if all member states of the Schengen area participate fully. Until that is the case, a reservation is entered to the statement of assurance, albeit one that is limited to the risk to the reputation of the Commission and the project, without financial implications.
Stefano Manservisi, the director-general for home affairs, also entered a reservation about potential errors of €3 million in two programmes that he manages. The two programmes – Prevention of and Fight against Crime (ISEC) and Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security-related risks (CIPS), for counterterrorism and police co-operation activities – had total expenditures of €139m in 2011. A mid-term review suggested that the two programmes will meet their objectives eventually, but also highlighted the problems created by the fragmentation of grants, lengthy application procedures and under-spending.