On 20th December 2012, the Council adopted the EU Regulations No 1272/2012 and No 1273/2012 on the migration of the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). According to these Regulations Malta could participate in the mentioned activities, in line with the eligible criteria for funding under Article 16, namely:
The migration related testing activities performed under Articles 8, 9 and 10 (8) of the Migration Regulations; and
The migration related activities performed under Article 11 of the Migration Regulations.
Complimentary to the financial assistance provided by the External Borders Fund, the Union provided a financial contribution to the expenditures of the migration and migration related testing activities performed under the mentioned Articles to cover specific and well-defined activities. The total amount of the financial facility was EUR 13.000.000. The amount foreseen for the call was a maximum of EUR 750,000 per Member State. The requested amount of grant per project could not exceed 75% of the total eligible costs. The beneficiaries are subject to audit through the European Court of Auditors and the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) on behalf of the EU Commission. The beneficiaries are obliged to keep financial records and invoices for a period of five years in compliance with the regulations for the purpose of such audit.
Following the use of the External Borders Fund Community Actions 2011 Emergency Assistance for SISII testing and allied activities, the Schengen Unit tapped how to make best use of the Migration Fund for preparation for the SISII switch over and immediate intensive monitoring period to follow. The project aimed at providing:
Alignment of the SIRENE application with the new DEBS 1.3.1 and participation in tests on supplementary information with other Member States;
Finalisation of the national SISII migration plan, procedures and developments;
Migration from SIRENE I to SIRENE II;
SISII application initialisation and synchronisation;
SISII application switchover;
SISII entry into operations support and intensive monitoring;
Contingency for potential rollback;
Support on infrastructure during the migration and intensive monitoring period;
Project management during the migration and intensive monitoring period.
To benefit from this financial contribution, Malta prepared a financial forecast to indicate a breakdown of the operational as well as the administrative costs of the activities related to the testing, migration, switch-over and the intensive monitoring period. These expenditures had to be reasonable and comply with principles of sound financial management, in particular, value for money and cost-effectiveness. Subsequently, Malta submitted its formal application which was accepted in January 2013 requesting a total grant agreement of over 233 thousand Euro. The grant agreement was approved and signed in April 2013.
The human communication between Malta and the Commission was very cordial as full assistance was provided by the Commission in the preparation of all the necessary documentation. Feedback was provided efficiently and effectively.
Malta has finalised the project’s activities and submitted full payments to its contractors. All financial records are maintained and filed at the Accounts Section of the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security. Copies of the Migration Fund process and financial records are kept at the Schengen Unit.