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Eurodac: European system for the comparison of fingerprints of asylum applicants

Eurodac: European system for the comparison of fingerprints of asylum applicants

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 on ‘Eurodac’ — EU asylum fingerprint database for comparing asylum applicants’ fingerprints

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

  • It expands Eurodac, which is an EU-wide biometric database containing fingerprints of asylum applicants and non-EU/European Economic Area (EEA) nationals for comparison between EU countries.
  • The aim is to:
    • make it easier for EU countries to determine responsibility for examining an asylum application by comparing the fingerprints of asylum applicants and non-EU/EEA nationals against a central database; and
    • enable law-enforcement authorities, subject to strict conditions, to consult Eurodac for the investigation, detection and prevention of terrorist or serious criminal offences.

KEY POINTS

  • Each EU country must take the fingerprints of all asylum applicants and those apprehended while trying to cross a border irregularly (e.g. non-EU/EEA nationals or stateless persons entering without valid documents) over the age of 14 and, within 72 hours, transmit the data to Eurodac.
  • When an asylum applicant or non-EU/EEA national has been found to be present illegally in an EU country, then that EU country can consult Eurodac to determine whether the individual has previously applied for asylum in an EU country or has previously been apprehended when trying to unlawfully enter the EU.
  • Fingerprint data should be erased once asylum applicants, non-EU/EEA nationals or stateless persons obtain citizenship of an EU country.
  • This regulation helps apply the Dublin III Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 604/2013), which lays down rules for determining which EU country is responsible for examining an asylum application.
  • The original Eurodac legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 2725/2000) did not offer a means for law enforcement authorities to request data comparisons. This regulation, however, allows police forces and Europol to compare fingerprints linked to criminal investigations with those contained in Eurodac. However, due to the fundamental right to privacy, law-enforcement agencies are only allowed to use Eurodac for comparisons:
    • where there are reasonable grounds that doing so will substantially assist them in preventing, detecting or investigating a terrorist offence or other serious criminal offence; and
    • only as a last resort after several other checks have been carried out first.
  • No Eurodac data may be shared with non-EU countries (other than Iceland and Norway).
  • Some asylum applicants and non-EU/EEA nationals or stateless persons have refused to cooperate with EU countries’ attempts to fingerprint them for the Eurodac database. This led the European Commission to issue a document on possible best practice relating to fingerprinting.
  • The Protocol between the EU, Iceland and Norway, signed in 2020, extends the application of Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 to Norway and Iceland.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 20 July 2015.

BACKGROUND

Eurodac was originally created in 2000 (Council Regulation (EC) No 2725/2000) and it has been operating since 2003. The Commission considers it to be a very successful information technology (IT) tool.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on the establishment of ‘Eurodac’ for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes, and amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 establishing a European Agency for the Operational Management of large-scale IT Systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, pp. 1-30)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Protocol between the European Union, Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway to the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a Member State or in Iceland or Norway regarding access to Eurodac for law enforcement purposes (OJ L 64, 3.3.2020, pp. 3-7)

Commission staff working document on implementation of the Eurodac regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints (SWD(2015) 150 final of 27.5.2015)

Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (OJ L 180, 29.6.2013, pp. 31-59)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 03.06.2020

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