Monday 21 May 2007, by House of Lords Select Committee on European Union
The Prüm Treaty was concluded between seven Member States: Germany, Austria, Spain, France, and the Benelux countries, and allows these states access to national databases held in each participating country. The databases contain DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data.
While emphasising the importance of increased cross-border cooperation in the fight against organised crime and terrorism, the Committee has serious concerns about the Treaty.
For example, highlighting the differences between practices on holding DNA details across the EU, it is noted that the UK’s DNA database is 50 percent larger than those of all the other Member States combined. Other Member States only keep DNA of criminals convicted of serious offences, whereas in the UK the standard practice is to take DNA profiles of all people arrested, regardless of whether or not they are charged or convicted. It is therefore possible that DNA details of British citizens who have never been convicted of any offence could be shared across the EU.
The Committee’s main criticism centres on the perception that the German Presidency is circumventing established EU procedures in its attempt to incorporate the Treaty into EU law. In particular, there has been a failure to allow other Member States and the European Parliament proper opportunity to consider the proposal. It is also noted that the Treaty contains provisions on data protection which are intended to supplement a general Data Protection Framework Decision. The problems lie in the fact that the EU Framework Decision has yet to be agreed.