GROUPE STERIA : European Commission deploys Visa Information System developed by Steria-led consortium

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Following its development by an international consortium led by Steria and in conjunction with HP, the Visa Information System (VIS) entered into live operation on the 11th October 2011 and has now been running smoothly for 11 months. The system, which was commissioned by the European Commission's Directorate General for Home Affairs, allows Schengen States to exchange visa data for short-stay or transit visas by connecting their consulates in non-EU countries and all external border crossing points across the region. The system currently processes an average of 4,000 visa applications per day with up to 11,000 applications handled on a 'peak' day. As of now the system has processed approximately 1,000,000 visa applications.

Paris, France, 10 September 2012 - The Schengen Area has expanded since its birth in 1985 to encompass 26 countries with additional regions joining on a regular basis, including Liechtenstein which is due to join very shortly. Its aim is to create a large area within which people can live, work and travel, but while the very large majority of visa holders follow the rules, abuses can also take place. VIS will help in combating and preventing fraudulent behaviours, such as "visa shopping" (i.e. the practice of making further visa applications to other EU States when a first application has been rejected) which has been linked to activities such as human trafficking and terrorism. Consolidated regulation of visas granted across Schengen states will help member states in their overall commitment to a safer Europe.

In order to ensure that VIS is robust, accurate and integrates all systems seamlessly while addressing the requirements of both the European Commission and the Member States, extensive tests and months of fine tuning were carried out before the go-ahead was given for the system to enter into operations last year. Given the large number of stakeholders involved and the political sensitivities surrounding the implementation and the system itself, the European Commission and the new European Agency that will take over the management of this system as from the end of 2012 will naturally continue to monitor operations carefully.

Francois Enaud, General Manager, Groupe Steria SCA said, "VIS is a great success for European, Schengen and international collaboration. It demonstrates a major step forward in sharing information and processes within the Schengen region and between its member countries. In addition, it demonstrates that, although challenging, large-scale, multi-stakeholder, integrated IT systems can be successfully implemented and delivered, allowing multiple countries to work together smoothly and easily from the outset. We already work with the governments of many European countries but this contract has proved our ability to help these governments work together efficiently."

"The VIS must deliver information to all Member States at all times: it cannot afford to go down even for a few minutes," said Johan Deschuyffeleer, Senior Vice President, Technology Services EMEA, HP. "HP's solution in collaboration with Steria provides the required high-availability environment that delivers mission-critical services across multiple countries and helps ensure government access to information in an instant."

Steria has a sound knowledge of the public sector through its skills in consulting, systems integration and managed services and the Schengen Programme places it at the heart of homeland security across Europe. Steria has already implemented the Eurodac project for the European Commission, which improves the management of asylum requests through biometric processing of fingerprints in 16 EU countries, as well as working with other international organisations including NATO and EUROCONTROL. Central and local governments of over 10 European countries already work with Steria including Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances in France, Generalitat Valenciana in Spain, Ministry of Defence in the UK and Oslo Kommune in Norway.

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About Steria
Steria delivers IT enabled business services which help organisations in the public and private sectors operate more efficiently and profitably. By combining in depth understanding of our clients' businesses with expertise in IT and business process outsourcing, we take on our clients' challenges and develop innovative solutions to address them. Through our highly collaborative consulting style, we work with our clients to transform their business, enabling them to focus on what they do best. Our 20,000 people, working across 16 countries, support the systems, services and processes that make today's world turn, touching the lives of millions around the globe each day.
Founded in 1969, Steria has offices in Europe, India, North Africa and SE Asia and 2011 revenues of ¤1.75 billion. 21%(*) of Steria's capital is owned by its employees. Headquartered in Paris, Steria is listed on the Euronext Paris market.

(*): including the Employees Shares Trust in the UK

Press contacts

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Tel: +33 1 43 12 55 52 / 62
e-mail: steriagroup@hotwirepr.com

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