Monday

19th Aug 2019

Police set to gain access to EU asylum data

  • MEPs in the committee on justice and home affairs voted in favour to allow police to probe the EU's asylum database (Photo: EU's attempts)

Euro-deputies in the justice and homes affairs committee voted on Monday (17 December) to support draft legislation that would allow law enforcement authorities access to a finger print database on asylum seekers.

The biometric ID system, known as Eurodac, was created to prevent people from making multiple asylum requests in member states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Commission over the summer proposed to amend Eurodac to allow police, as well as the EU-policy body Europol, to search and query the database.

But giving police access has generated controversy among human rights organisations, the Brussels-based European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and some MEPs.

“This is an important step in the wrong direction,” German green MEP Ska Keller, one of three MEPs who opposed opening up the database, told this website.

Among the concerns are privacy rights and the risk of stigmatising asylum seekers as criminals.

Anyone who requests asylum, including minors, has their information stored on the database for at least 10 years. Some 300,000 applied for asylum in the EU last year alone.

The database also stores details on irregular migrants for up to two years. None of them have access to their files.

Under the new changes, police would be able to cross check their fingerprints on the database with those stored in other national IT repositories to identify potential suspects in criminal investigations.

MEPs tabled a number of amendments to restrict the access, including a judicial review, but human rights lawyers say the development is a of form of "function creep."

“It conflicts with the original purpose of this database,” says Dr Maarten den Heijer, a member of the Meijers Committee, an independent experts' group on human rights based in the Netherlands.

For his part, the EDPS has questioned if law enforcement access is necessary in the first place and has said the commission has not demonstrated any substantive reason why accessing data on asylum seekers is needed.

The EU data protection agency points out that legal instruments already exist which allow law authorities to consult member states' fingerprint databases.

But the Brussels-executive says a number significant safeguards and limitations on the database would prevent police abuse.

“It will only be possible to make searches on a hit-/no hit basis and a Eurodac check can only be made if prior searches in national or member states' databases do not yield results,” said European home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström in May when the proposal was tabled.

The new proposals will next go into so-called trialogue negotiations between the member states, the commission, and the European Parliament before they goes up for debate in plenary early next year.

Investigation

Gaddafi-tainted firm scoops EU contract

An EU IT agency has awarded a contract to a firm linked with the late Colonel Gaddafi’s efforts to track and torture people during the Libyan revolution.

Investigation

EU may extend 'passenger name records' to rail and sea

Documents reveal that EU states are considering broadening requirements on keeping passenger records, currently only applicable to air carriers, to providers of other modes of transport.

UK taking 'steps' after illegal copying of EU Schengen data

According to a classified report, the UK made illegal copies of EU security data, and its disregard for EU rules on handling such data was a "serious and immediate risk". The Commission now says "practical steps" have since been taken.

EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'

EU states ought to undergo a yearly "Rule of Law Review Cycle" to help stop countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Romania from backsliding on EU norms, the European Commission has said.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us