Police cooperation: Allowing access to fingerprints stored in EURODAC by Member States‘ law enforcement authorities and by Europol

[7thspace.com] Today, national authorities in the EU face legal problems and very burdensome procedures when they need to exchange data on asylum seekers and persons who illegally crossed the external borders.

To protect life and safety of European citizens by fighting terrorism and serious crime, such as trafficking in human beings and in drugs, it is necessary to review how law enforcement authorities consult the data needed.

By securing data access under full protection of personal data and respect of fundamental rights EURODAC may be accessed; this database contains fingerprints of applicants for international protection and of third country nationals who irregularly crossed the border.

What are the benefits of the proposals?

The European Commission believes that, by realising a solution ensuring fundamental rights of those whose fingerprints are stored in EURODAC, law enforcement authorities of Member States may be provided with the possibility to compare the fingerprints contained in the EURODAC database for the purpose of fighting terrorism and serious crime.

Why is action taken at EU level?

Problems relating to cross-border law enforcement cooperation cannot be effectively dealt with at a national level, or on the basis of bilateral arrangements between Member States. Only coordinated action at an EU level can ensure such cooperation.

EURODAC is a European Union database; only measures at an EU level can authorise its use for law enforcement purposes.

Data protection and fundamental rights can be more effectively guaranteed on EU level.

How will this work?

The Commission measures propose to:

Authorise comparison of fingerprints which are contained in EURODAC with fingerprints in the possession of national law enforcement authorities or Europol for fight against terrorism and serious crime, including trafficking in human beings and drugs;

Regulate the procedure in which law enforcement authorities request comparisons with the EURODAC database and the conditions under which such request can be made;

Provide a series of guarantees aimed at ensuring the protection of the personal data of the persons concerned and in safeguarding their fundamental rights, i.a. the right to asylum;

When are these proposals likely to come into effect?

The Commission proposals are scheduled to be presented at the EU Council of Ministers in September 2009. It is expected to take approximately 2 years to negotiate the legislative proposals in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Source: http://7thspace.com