This debate is a landmark moment for the European Union.
It is probably the last time we are debating a security initiative in the plenary, and it is also an opportunity to reflect, realising how far we have come in the last five years.
From the first time we debated in plenary, we saw eye to eye on the need to change the way Member States cooperated on security.
To overcome the security taboos of the past, and look at internal security as a collective, European issue that can only be addressed with more trust and ever-closer cooperation.
In this sense, our debate today is an excellent case in point in terms of our progress during these five years.
The interoperability of our information systems for borders, migration and security is an issue which concerns all of us.
Interoperability is an exercise in silo-breaking.
For while it might sound technical, it is exactly the step-change we need to enhance the security of our citizens in Europe, to protect our common external borders and better manage migration.
For this reason exactly, I would like to express my thanks to the co-rapporteurs, Mr Lenaers and Mr Melo, as well as to all the shadow rapporteurs and their assistants, for realising the importance of this proposal we submitted a bit more than one year ago.
Interoperability is the most effective way to fight fragmentation of effort, close information gaps and address the risks of terrorists and serious criminals crossing our borders undetected.
This is the European Union at its best: empowering and supporting our border guards and police officers with the right tools to do their job and protect citizens.
Interoperability is also the European Union taking a decisive step towards an effective and genuine Security Union, managing the parallel and interconnected challenges of migration and security in a comprehensive and holistic way.
All this, while making sure throughout the process – with your great contribution – that fundamental rights will be fully respected, that interoperability is no big brother or a super-database, and that nothing changes in terms of the access of each official or authority to the underlying data in our information systems.
The involvement of the Fundamental Rights Agency and the European Data Protection Supervisor in the preparatory process of our proposal, showed from Day 1 that security and privacy are two sides of the same coin – and in the European Union both CAN and should be ensured.
Honourable members, Our citizens want more Europe when it comes to security.
We see this in every public survey, and we hear it every time we are out there meeting our citizens.
Interoperability can be the game changer in how we use information to the best possible effect to keep our citizens safe.
In an electoral year, this could not be more important.
We are delivering concrete action, responding to our citizens’ top concerns. We can all be justifiably proud of this achievement.
My sincere thanks once again therefore go out to all that made a contribution, but in particular to our excellent co-rapporteurs, Mr Melo and Mr Lenaers.