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The objective of this regulation is to establish a system for comparing fingerprints of asylum seekers and some categories of illegal immigrants. It will facilitate the application of the Dublin II Regulation, which makes it possible to determine the European Union (EU) country responsible for examining an asylum application.
Council Regulation No 2725/2000 of 11 December 2000 concerning the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention.
The Eurodac system enables European Union (EU) countries to help identify asylum applicants and persons who have been apprehended in connection with an irregular crossing of an external border of the Union. By comparing fingerprints, EU countries can determine whether an asylum applicant or a foreign national found illegally present within an EU country has previously claimed asylum in another EU country or whether an asylum applicant entered the Union territory unlawfully.
Eurodac consists of a Central Unit within the Commission, equipped with a computerised central database for comparing fingerprints, and a system for electronic data transmission between EU countries and the database.
In addition to fingerprints, data sent by EU countries include:
Data are collected for persons who are at least 14 years of age and are sent to the Central Unit via national access points.
In the case of asylum applicants, data are kept for ten years unless the individual obtains the citizenship of one of the EU countries, in which case their data must be immediately erased. Data relating to foreign nationals apprehended in connection with an irregular crossing of an external border are kept for two years from the date on which the fingerprints were taken. Data are immediately erased before the end of the two years if the foreign national:
In the case of foreign nationals found illegally present in an EU country, it is possible to check their fingerprints against those in the central database to determine whether the individual had previously lodged an asylum application in another EU country. After the fingerprints have been transmitted for comparison purposes, they are no longer stored in Eurodac.
As regards the protection of personal data, EU countries sending data to Eurodac must ensure that the taking of fingerprints and all operations involving the processing, transmission, conservation or erasure of the data are carried out lawfully. The Commission must see to the proper application of the regulation by the Central Unit and take the necessary measures to ensure the security thereof. It also informs the European Parliament and the Council of the measures it takes.
Data processing activities of EU countries are monitored by the national supervisory bodies, while those of the Commission are monitored by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).
In addition to all EU countries, this regulation is applied by countries that (on the basis of international agreements) apply the Dublin Regulation, namely Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
Entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States
Regulation No 2725/2000
OJ L 316 of 15.12.2000
Council Regulation (EC) No 407/2002 of 28 February 2002 laying down certain rules to implement Regulation (EC) No 2725/2000 concerning the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention [Official Journal L 62 of 5.3.2002]. In accordance with Article 22 of the Eurodac Regulation, the Council adopted certain provisions for the transmission and comparison of fingerprints and the definition of the tasks of the Central Unit. The Central Unit defines the technical requirements for transmitting fingerprints electronically. A reference number makes it possible to relate a fingerprint to one particular person and to identify the EU country that sent the data. The number is composed of several letters and a code. EU countries ensure the transmission of fingerprints in "an appropriate quality" for the purpose of comparison.
As a general rule, the Central Unit deals with requests for comparisons within 24 hours (except in cases of emergency), in order of arrival.
Council Decision 2008/147/EC of 28 January 2008 on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum lodged in a Member State or in Switzerland [Official Journal L 53 of 27.2.2008]. With this Agreement, the provisions of the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations, as well as the related implementing regulations, are applied to Switzerland in its relations with EU countries. The Agreement, which entered into force on 1 March 2008, provides for rights and obligations between Switzerland and EU countries with regard to these regulations. In case of non-fulfilment of the obligations, the Agreement may be suspended or denounced. A mixed committee consisting of representatives of Switzerland and EU countries is established to examine the implementation and practical application of the provisions of the Dublin/Eurodac acquis. The exchange of letters annexed to the Agreement foresees that the meetings of the mixed committees between the EU and Iceland and Norway on the one hand (see below), and the EU and Switzerland on the other hand, will be organised jointly.
Council Decision 2006/188/EC of 21 February 2006 on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark extending to Denmark the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national and Council Regulation (EC) No 2725/2000 concerning the establishment of Eurodac for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention [Official Journal L 66 of 8.3.2006].
Council Decision 2001/258/EC of 15 March 2001 concerning the conclusion of an 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 Iceland or Norway [Official Journal L 93 of 3.4.2001].
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 2 August 2010 – Annual report to the European Parliament and the Council on the activities of the EURODAC Central Unit in 2009 [COM(2010) 415 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. This seventh annual report on the Eurodac Central Unit presents the management and performance of the system in 2009, evaluating its output, cost-effectiveness and quality of service.
With regard to the management of the system, an upgrading of the Eurodac system is being carried out as the amount of data is constantly increasing and the technical platform is becoming obsolete, as well as due to the unpredictable trends in transaction volume.
In its Annex, the report provides statistics on applications made for asylum (category 1), apprehensions of those who have illegally crossed the external border of the Union (category 2) and those who have been found illegally present in the territory of an EU country (category 3). While transactions of both category 1 and 3 data continued the increasing trend of previous years, transactions of category 2 data dropped dramatically.
In general, the speed, output, security and cost-effectiveness of the central unit were perceived as satisfactory, but the persisting delays in the transmission of data remain a concern.
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 25 September 2009 – Annual Report to the Council and the European Parliament on the activities of the EURODAC Central Unit in 2008 [COM(2009) 494 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 26 January 2009 – Annual report to the Council and the European Parliament on the activities of the EURODAC Central Unit in 2007 [COM(2009) 13 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Commission staff working document of 11 September 2007 – Annual Report to the Council and the European Parliament on the activities of the EURODAC Central Unit in 2006 [SEC(2007) 1184 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 6 June 2007 on the evaluation of the Dublin system [COM(2007) 299 final – Official Journal C 191 of 17.8.2007]. In the Commission's view, the objectives of the Dublin system (Dublin II Regulation and Eurodac Regulation) have, on the whole, been achieved. It also states that some concerns remain, in terms of both the practical application and the effectiveness of the system. In light of this, the Commission is proposing to amend both regulations.
Commission staff working paper – Third annual report on the activities of the Eurodac Central Unit [SEC(2006) 1170 – Not published in the Official Journal].
Commission staff working paper – Second annual report on the activities of the Eurodac Central Unit [SEC(2005) 839 – Not published in the Official Journal].
Commission staff working paper – First annual report on the activities of the Eurodac Central Unit [SEC(2004) 557 – Not published in the Official Journal].
Last updated: 11.08.2010