Thursday

1st Oct 2020

Balkan countries want access to EU asylum database

  • Western Balkan nations want access to the fingerprint details of asylum seekers and migrants. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Western Balkan nations are pushing to get access to the EU's vast asylum database as part of a broader effort to stem the migrant flows.

"Third countries said they want access to the EU databases. We said we would look into what is possible," an European commission spokesperson told this website on Thursday (18 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The demand to get access to the asylum database Eurodac was made at a dinner in Brussels on Wednesday. The move would possibly grant Balkan police access to a database that contains the fingerprint details of a large archive of asylum seekers and migrants.

Launched in 2003, the database is used by asylum authorities to crack down on people not entitled to be in a territory. It was updated last year to allow police access. The EU's police agency Europol can also probe the database.

But the move to possibly grant non-EU states access represents a big departure. The commission had previously stated that "no data received from Eurodac may be shared with third countries."

The fear is that information on legitimate asylum seekers fleeing persecution could somehow be leaked back to the oppressing government, possibly placing that individual's family or friends at risk of harm.

Organised at the request of the Slovenians in the margins of conference on Syria in London earlier this month, the dinner was hosted by EU Council chief Donald Tusk. At the table were the presidents of Macedonia and Serbia. The prime ministers of Slovenia and Croatia also attended.

Balkans are seeking Eurodac access to better identify people should bottlenecks appear along the route after Austria announced a controversial decision to cap the number of asylum seekers.

"The meeting proved even more useful in light of the Austria's decisions," an EU source told this website.

"The countries in the region consider themselves as primarily transit countries and will not accept to become destination countries," noted the contact.

Meanwhile, EU leaders at a summit in Brussels postponed any decision making on migration until March as the UK's possible exit from the Union dominated talks.

The gathering of 28 heads of state in Brussels comes amid mounting uncertainity over the future of a Union that is being stretched by both issues.

Talks on how to best deal with all the people seeking international protection was instead reserved for a late evening dinner conversation as leaders preferred wrangling over British demands ahead of its In/Out referendum.

With around a half dozen EU summits dedicated to migration and little to show in terms of results, any expectations of breakthrough at the summit were never high.

Instead, hopes were placed on getting Ankara to step up its efforts to stem the flow of people to Greece as part of a larger €3 billion EU deal.

But those too were quashed when Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu cancelled his visit following a deadly explosion in the capital.

Pressure for a more rapid solution to bringing down in the numbers is instead coming from Austria, central EU states, and now the Western Balkan nations increasing the likelihood of a ring-fenced Greece.

Analysis

Russia's Syria tactics imperil EU-Turkey migrant plan

Events in Syria pose questions if the EU-Turkey migrant plan is still relevant. They show the need for solidarity. But there’s little of that and few options on how to stop Turkey's “nightmare.”

Analysis

'Sponsored returns' may shuffle failed asylum seekers around EU

The European Commission is banking on cooperation and coordination among EU states to help makes its new migration and asylum pact viable. But its plan is already being greeted with suspicion by more hardline anti-migrant countries like Austria and Hungary.

Analysis

Between the lines, Europe's new Moria unfolds

A new five-day screening of migrants at Europe's external borders is meant to expedite people into either 'asylum' or 'return' tracks. The time-limit is wishful thinking and one that could leave people stranded in make-shift camps or even ghettos.

EU migration pact to deter asylum

The EU commission's newest pact on migration and asylum seeks to deter people from claiming asylum by speeding up procedures and sending most of them back home.

Legal complaint filed with EU Commission over migration

The European Commission is being legally pressed to investigate alleged infringements by Greece on migration and asylum - following reports of push-backs and the denial of basic rights for people demanding international protection.

News in Brief

  1. Polish MEP defects to Greens from Socialists & Democrats
  2. Finally a federal government agreement in Belgium
  3. Auditor appeals for EU funds on child poverty
  4. British MPs get behind controversial Brexit bill
  5. France admits Covid-19 app low take-up
  6. UK sanctions Belarus leadership
  7. Poland introduces new Covid-19 rules but no lockdown
  8. Turkey reportedly downs Armenian fighter jet

Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact

Michael Spindelegger, the former minister of foreign affairs of Austria and current director of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), reveals some of the proposals in the European Commission's upcoming pact on migration and asylum.

EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece

Over 120 asylum seeking children and teenagers in Greece have so far been relocated to a handful of EU states in a scheme the European Commission says is a demonstration of solidarity. EU states have pledged to take in 2,000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news
  2. Ban on Catalan leader condemned as 'disproportionate'
  3. EU defends Jourova over Hungary's resignation demand
  4. A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?
  5. The EU's new rule of law report - pushing at an open door?
  6. EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
  7. Reports: Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan
  8. German presidency tries to end EU's rule-of-law battle

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us