Note for navigation with support technologies: in this page you find 3 main elements: search engine (shortcut key 1); the highlights at the main area of the page (shortcut key 2) e main menu (shortcut key 3).

Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC)
Home  > International Relations

International Relations and International Representation

The activities of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) in the context of International Relations and International Representation is to assure the international cooperation and participation within the European Union (EU) and multilateral organizations in the areas of Information and Knowledge Society, and bilateral cooperation, to promote international cooperation, to obtain first hand information about developments in other countries and to contribute to the development of the Information and Knowledge Society in the European Union and the World, affirming the voice of Portugal in the main international public policy fora in this area.

Information about the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) International Relations and International Representation is presented on separate pages, organized according to the respective Scope of Activities:

The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) has had an intense intervention in most relevant international fora for Information and Knowledge Society public policy, mainly:

  • In the EU, in more than 25 groups / committees in which UMIC represents Portugal, with particular relevance in the following:
    • i2010 High Level Group,
    • High Level Group on Internet Governance,
    • National ICT Research Directors Forum,
    • Future Internet Forum,
    • CREST – Scientific and Technical Research Committee,
    • SFIC – Strategic Forum for International S&T Cooperation,
    • General Assembly of the Ambient Assisting Living (AAL) Association of the AAL Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme,
    • EGI – European Grid Initiative Policy Committee
    • EUROSTAT Information Society Statistics Working Group,
    • Broadband Performance Index Subgroup of the i2010 High Level Group;
  • In the OECD, in the following groups / committees:
    • ICCP – Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy in which Portugal assumed a Vice Presidency in 2009,
    • WPIE – Working Party on the Information Economy,
    • WPIIS – Working Party on Indicators for the Information Society,
    • Meetings on the Innovation Strategy within the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry and on responses to the economic crisis;
  • In the UN, in the following groups / committees:
    • CSTD – Commission on Science and Technology for Development for which Portugal was elected in May 2009, integrating the group of 10 Western countries (with Germany, Austria, Belgium, USA, Finland, France, Israel, Switzerland, Turkey), up to the end of 2012,
    • IGF – Internet Governance Forum,
    • Multistakeholder Advisory Group to the Secretary-General of the UN regarding IGF, whose members are appointed by the Secretary-General,
    • Meetings within the WSIS – World Summit on Information Society Process.
  • In the ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

The results of this work, which had a particular focus since 2006, and was intensified in 2008 and 2009, led Portugal to join a small group of countries particularly involved and influential in public policy for the Internet, R&D in ICT and Information Society. Certain guidelines now adopted in the organizations mentioned above were proposed by the Portuguese delegation, for example: extending the concept of electronic commerce to all orders placed through information networks mediated by computers instead of restricting the orders through Internet browsers, consideration of metrics for mobile broadband penetration which were not considered before, the importance given to R&D in the context of policies for Information Society and Knowledge, and Innovation, including the Declaration Seoul Declaration of the OECD Ministerial Meeting on The Future of the Internet Economy.

Still in the area of International Relations, and intensive work was done regarding International Knowledge Networks (with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas at Austin, Harvard Medical School, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft) and bilateral cooperation, especially with Spain, including INL, IBERGRID, interconnection in optical fiber of the national research and education networks, voluntary distributed computing (IBERCIVIS), and with Brazil in the preparation and negotiation of protocols for a new impetus to cooperation in S&T, including e-science, nanotechnology, S&T based innovation.

The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) also had a contribution of major political impact in the European Union (EU) which deserves special mention, namely the idea of the SISone4ALL that adapted the Schengen Information System I (SIS I) to allow the timely enlargement of the Schengen area to new Member States of the EU. The European Council and the Hague Programme had set the political objective of assuring the possibility of accession of the new EU Member States to the Schengen area by October 2007. The Schengen Area, where people can freely move without border controls, was covering in 2006 all EU15 countries except Ireland and the UK, but it also included Norway and Iceland from outside the EU. The initiative of Portugal allowed to circumvent a purely technical problem to achieve in 2007 the established political objective. In fact, it was planned that the new Member States were to use a new technological version of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) which was then being developed to replace by mid-2007, already after an extension of the initial deadline by 17 months, the version of the System (SIS I) that was being used and had been developed in the 1990s. However, this project was subjected to delays and the European Commission reported in September 2006 that it would be technically impossible to have SIS II operational before mid 2008. That would mean postponing to the end of December 2008, or even to 2009, the entry of new Member States to the Schengen Area.

Once expressed the political will of the Portuguese Government to find a technical solution that could be announced at the Informal Council of Ministers, scheduled for Tempere at 21-22 September 2006, to make possible the entry of the new Member States to the Schengen area still in 2007, when the only attempt at a solution that was being considered was how to accelerate the development of SIS II so that the system be operational before the end of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU in late 2007, the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) proposed the alternative that had not been considered before of extending the use of SIS I to the new Member States, as had been done before for the entrance of the Nordic countries in the Schengen area, since this was the only clearly feasible solution and the process could be driven by Portugal minimizing the problems of coordination with other technical and functional entities as the SIS II was still in an early stage of development.

This proposal has proved to be technically feasible, was made possible by the strong political commitment of the Government of Portugal at the European Council, and was technically achieved by the company Critical Software in collaboration with the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) of the Ministry of Internal Administration. Thus, Portugal developed a modified version of SIS I, that it called SISone4ALL, and proposed to the new Member States its adoption so that they could enter the Schengen area in 2007. Nine countries accepted the proposed use of the system SISone4ALL developed in Portugal, namely Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. Furthermore, Switzerland, although not belonging to the EU, decided to take this opportunity and to plan its entry to the Schengen area with SISone4ALL without waiting for SIS II. So, Portugal announced at the informal Council of Ministers meeting in Tampere, on 21-22 September 2006, that it was preparing a transitional technical solution for the problem, based on what was done at the time of the Schengen enlargement area with the entrance of the Nordic countries. At the European Council of 4-5 December 2006 it was decided to accept the Portuguese proposal as an alternative to await for the availability of the SIS II that would only allow the entry of new countries to the Schengen area in 2009 or later if some additional delays would still happen.

On March 27, 2007, a ceremony was held in Lisbon to give to the Ministers of Interior of the new Member States mentioned above a kit with SISone4ALL and instructions for installing it in these States. On August 31, 2007, the work of installation, migration and testing of the systems in the Member States cloned from the Portuguese SIS I and the system installed in central France was found to be concluded. A ceremony held at SEF highlighted the completion of technical testing, formal and informal, as well as the migration to SISone4ALL. In September 2007, the evaluation of the use of this system in each Member State began.

The opening of land and sea borders with the Portuguese system SISone4ALL, was effectively accomplished on December 21, 2007, for nine countries: Estonia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The opening of airports for these countries, also with the Portuguese system SISone4ALL, was implemented on March 30, 2008. On December 12, 2008, the enlargement of the Schengen area to Switzerland was assured.