21st Mar 2018

EU wants to give police greater digital access

  • Police want access to an EU database that contains the biometric data of asylum seekers (Photo: EU's attempts)

The European Commission is set to propose expanding police access to sensitive digital data, including details of financial transactions made inside the EU and biometric data of asylum seekers.

The idea is laid out in an internal document, seen by this website, from EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The paper, dated 4 March 2016, says the commission is mulling proposals to broaden the Terrorist Financing Tracking Program (TFTP), also known as the Swift agreement.

Under the agreement, the US treasury department and EU law enforcement agencies have access to data on Europeans' financial transactions in a bid to identify terrorist financing.

But it excludes transactions made through the so-called Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), a widespread system that allows people, for instance, to use their debit card anywhere in the euro area.

"This implies, in particular, an information gap to identify contextual information on foreign terrorist fighters and their associates within SEPA countries, thus decreasing opportunities to detect and disrupt terrorist (support) networks, including the related financing activities," notes the paper.

The internal document, titled State of Play on the Implementation of the Statement of the members of the European Council of 12 February 2015, suggests that the commission might seek to include SEPA transactions under the Swift agreement.

The document also criticises the way information from various EU-level databases is shared and used among national security agencies.

For example, it argues that Europol should be given greater access to the EU-wide fingerprint database Eurodac "to prevent, detect, and investigate serious crimes and terrorist offences".

Europol also wants to extend its access to the Schengen Information System, which allows European law enforcement agencies to create and share alerts.

The police agency can already carry out manual checks in the system, but is unable to enter alerts and has no access to data on missing persons or refusals of entry or stay in a country.

Europol chief Rob Wainwright earlier this year said more EU states are now participating in data sharing with the agency. Before the 13 November terror attacks in Paris, roughly half of EU states had signed up to any formal exchange of information with Europol. Most are now onboard.

The internal paper also contradicts an often-cited estimate that 5,000 people in Europe fought in Syria alongside militant jihadist groups, saying that data from Europol suggests the verified figure is 2,786.

"This despite well-founded estimates that around 5,000 EU citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh and other extremist groups," notes the paper, using an alternative term for the Islamic State militant group.

EU interior ministers in Brussels are meeting to discuss how to improve the data sharing, with the UK and France pressing other EU states to be more proactive on intelligence sharing.

"On terrorism we've seen and we've made great strides in sharing information among European countries but there is more to do," UK home secretary Theresa May told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (10 March).

EU hands personal data to US authorities on daily basis

EU and US co-operation in combatting terrorism remains shrouded in secrecy as Europol, the EU police agency, refuses to render public an inspection report that details how financial data is handed over to US authorities.


EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery

The EU-Turkey deal was agreed two years ago in Brussels. Focus has largely been on reducing migrant flows across the Mediterranean and helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, while the plight of those on the Greek islands are ignored.

EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm

MEPs are to investigate whether UK firm Cambridge Analytica and Facebook misused private data to sway votes amid increasingly lurid revelations.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  2. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  3. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  4. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  5. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  6. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  7. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  8. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  2. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  3. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  4. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  5. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  6. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  7. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  8. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus