Tuesday 8 February 2005, by European Council
THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 63 point (1)(a) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
Having regard to the opinion of the European Parliament ,
(1) Member States have ratified the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951, as amended by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967, relating to the Status of Refugees.
(2) Member States have concluded the Convention determining the State responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in one of the Member States of the European Communities, signed in Dublin on 15 June 1990 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Dublin Convention’)  .
(3) For the purposes of applying the Dublin Convention, it is necessary to establish the identity of applicants for asylum and of persons apprehended in connection with the unlawful crossing of the external borders of the Community. It is also desirable, in order effectively to apply the Dublin Convention, and in particular points (c) and (e) of Article 10(1) thereof, to allow each Member State to check whether an alien found illegally present on its territory has applied for asylum in another Member State.
(4) Fingerprints constitute an important element in establishing the exact identity of such persons. It is necessary to set up a system for the comparison of their fingerprint data.
(5) To this end, it is necessary to set up a system known as ‘Eurodac’, consisting of a Central Unit, to be established within the Commission and which will operate a computerised central database of fingerprint data, as well as of the electronic means of transmission between the Member States and the central database.
(6) It is also necessary to require the Member States promptly to take fingerprints of every applicant for asylum and of every alien who is apprehended in connection with the irregular crossing of an external border of a Member State, if they are at least 14 years of age.
(7) It is necessary to lay down precise rules on the transmission of such fingerprint data to the Central Unit, the recording of such fingerprint data and other relevant data in the central database, their storage, their comparison with other fingerprint data, the transmission of the results of such comparison and the blocking and erasure of the recorded data. Such rules may be different for, and should be specifically adapted to, the situation of different categories of aliens.
(8) Aliens who have requested asylum in one Member State may have the option of requesting asylum in another Member State for many years to come. Therefore, the maximum period during which fingerprint data should be kept by the Central Unit should be of considerable length. Given that most aliens who have stayed in the Community for several years will have obtained a settled status or even citizenship of a Member State after that period, a period of ten years should be considered a reasonable period for the conservation of fingerprint data.
(9) The conservation period should be shorter in certain special situations where there is no need to keep fingerprint data for that length of time. Fingerprint data should be erased immediately once aliens obtain citizenship of a Member State.
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 OJ C 189, 7.7.2000, p. 105 and p. 227 and opinion delivered on 21 September 2000 (not yet published in the Official Journal).
 OJ C 254, 19.8.1997, p. 1.