Brussels, 04/01/2001 (Agence Europe)

Through the written procedure, in December, the EU Council adopted the Eurodac regulation on the comparison of fingerprints of asylum-seekers and certain other foreigners, regulation that aims to improve the functioning of the Dublin Convention, which took effect in Septembers 1997, on determining which Member State is responsible for examining a request for asylum.

Eurodac will be a centralised database placed at the Commission's disposal and to which EU Member States will communicate the fingerprints of the people concerned, to see whether they have already submitted a request for asylum in another Member State. The regulation provides, in particular, for fingerprints only being taken when it concerns someone of at least 14 years of age (you may recall that the European Parliament had a very raucous debate on this subject, and that in plenary a majority rejected amendments aimed at raising this minimum age) and makes a distinction between asylum-seekers and "certain other foreigners", i.e. those illegally on the territory of an EU Member State or caught while illegally crossing an external border. The fingerprints of asylum-seekers will usually be conserved at the central unit for ten years, whereas data may be erased as soon as a foreigner has secured the citizenship of a Member State. The regulation also comprises provisions on the use, security and protection of data.

This regulation will also apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland, which - on the basis of their protocols annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty - notified that they wanted to participate in its adoption and implementation. Denmark, which, in virtue of the protocol annexed to the Treaty concerning it, is not participating in the adoption or implementation of the regulation, has, however, let it be known that it would like to take part in the Eurodac system: a specific arrangement will therefore have to be set up.