Tuesday 18 September 2007, by European Commission
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The annual report on the activities of EURODAC (the EU wide biometric tool which helps determine which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum claim)in 2006, was published today by the Commission. The report gives essential information on patterns of asylum seeking and illegal entry in the EU and shows a starting ’deterrent effect’ for ’multiple applications’ – asylum claims where the same person has already made an application in the same country or in another Member State.
»EURODAC is an essential part of the EU’s Common European Asylum System» stated Vice-President Franco Frattini, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security. «The report published today shows the effective contribution of this EU-wide fingerprint database in managing asylum applications, helping establish which Member State should examine each of them through the comparison of the fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal entrants and preventing «asylum shopping»».
In 2006, EURODAC processed 165.958 sets of fingerprints of asylum seekers, 41.312 sets of fingerprints of people crossing the borders irregularly and 63.341 sets of fingerprints of people apprehended while illegally staying on the territory of a Member State.
Figures show that in 2006, the number of registered asylum applications further decreased while the number of registered irregular entrants increased significantly (+ 64% compared to 2005). The report reveals that in 17% of the total number of cases, the same person had already made at least one asylum application in the same country or in another Member State (known as a multiple application). In some cases, several applications had been made across several EU Member States by the same person. This percentage is only 1% higher then in 2005, which could reflect that the deterrent effect of the «Dublin system» (system which states that only one Member state can examine an asylum application) starts being effective.
The EURODAC Central Unit which manages the central system was operational for 99.9% of the reporting period, operating 24/24 hours and 7/7 days.
On 6 June this year, the Commission has issued a comprehensive report on the evaluation of the application of the Dublin system, comprising both the Dublin Regulation and EURODAC, from 2003 to 2005.
Since 15 January 2003, the fingerprints of anyone over the age of 14 who applies for asylum in the European Union, in Norway or in Iceland are stored in a database called EURODAC. EURODAC was created to support the development of an asylum policy common to all Member States of the European Union.
EURODAC aims at facilitating the Dublin Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003) which determines the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application. This Regulation establishes a series of criteria which allocate responsibility for examining an asylum application to the Member State that permitted the applicant to enter or reside. That Member State is then responsible for examining the application according to its national law and is obliged to take back its applicants who are irregularly in another Member State.
EURODAC is the first common Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) within the European Union.
The European Commission operates the system on behalf of participating States. Co-operation in this framework has formed a good basis for future common large-scale IT projects, such as the second generation of the Schengen Information System or the future European Visa Information System.
Under the EURODAC system, participating States have to promptly take the fingerprints of each asylum seeker over the age of 14. The procedure for taking fingerprints has been agreed in accordance with the safeguards laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These fingerprints are then compared with fingerprint data transmitted by other participating States stored in the central database. If EURODAC shows that the fingerprints have already been recorded, the asylum seeker can be sent back to the country where his/her fingerprints were originally taken.
Access to this system is restricted to the sole purpose stated in the EURODAC Regulation. The database does not contain details such as the name of a person because it relies only on biometric comparison, the safest and most accurate available identification method. Each participating state ensures that the national supervisory authority on data protection monitors independently the lawfulness of the processing of the data.
EURODAC consists of a Central Unit within the Commission equipped with a fully automated, computerised central database for comparing fingerprints and a system for electronic data transmission between each participating State and the Central Unit. Every necessary measure has been taken to guarantee the security and protection of the data registered.
The total Community budget allocated for EURODAC is €16.675 million; the total expenditure on all externalised activities specific to EURODAC (which includes system maintenance, software licenses, application bug fixing, network links, etc.) after four years of operations, is €7.8 million. The expenditure for maintaining and operating the Central Unit in 2006 was €244.240.
Brussels, 18 September 2007
Source : Europa