Statewatch article: RefNo# 31578
EU: Presidency under pressure to "ensure law enforcement access" to proposed entry/exit migrant database
Statewatch News Online, June 2012
08.06.2012

The day after the European Commission proposed giving police forces access to Eurodac, a database of asylum seekers' and irregular migrants' fingerprints, [1] a meeting of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party heard of the "need" for law enforcement authorities to have access to the proposed entry/exit system for third-country nationals. [2]

The minutes of the Working Party's meeting on 1 June show that the delegation of one Member State "underlined the need for the current and incoming Presidencies to work on ensuring access for law enforcement to this system."

Due to the policy of not noting the nationality of those speaking at the meetings of EU working parties, it is unknown which Member State's delegation made the statement.

An EU entry/exit system

Exact details of the proposed entry/exit system are still not clear, although it would be "an automatic system registering the time and place of entry and exit of Non-EU Member Country nationals admitted for short stays, both those who require a visa and those who do not."

It is likely that the system will be used to "not only identify 'overstayers' but... also provide information and data on migration flows." [3]

The discussion in the Law Enforcement Working Party is not the first time law enforcement access for reasons other than border control has been raised.

The Commission has stated in the past that not only will "the data generated by the entry/exit system... be used by the competent immigration authorities," but also that "various authorities may, according to an agreed legal framework and when necessary, access and use the information on the different target groups that is available in the database."

This should only take place "in exceptional circumstances where duly authorised law enforcement authorities seek with good cause, evidence on the travel histories of named individuals." [4]

Eleven Member States currently have or are implementing national entry/exit systems, [5] with seven of them (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland) apparently providing routine access to law enforcement authorities. [6]

Further discussions were planned to take place at the meeting of the JHA Council today, [7] although the formal agenda does not specifically mention the entry/exit system. [8]

Funding

The financing of an entry/exit system seems likely to come from the proposed Internal Security Fund, which currently has 3,520 million of a total of 4,648 million earmarked for 'external borders and visa'. The remaining money will go towards police cooperation. [9]

The proposed fund is currently under discussion in the European Parliament, which at the end of May issued a resolution on the EU's Internal Security Strategy, noting that:

"[B]order management and human mobility are not just security issues but key features of a wider political strategy that involves the security dimension as well as immigration, asylum and development policies at EU level and policies supporting economic, social and democratic development and promoting human rights in third countries; stresses furthermore that security must be pursued on a basis of respect for the achievements of the Union, namely the right of free movement across internal borders." [10]

Sources
[1] European Commission, 'Amended proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the establishment of 'EURODAC' for the comparison of fingeprints for the effective application of Regulation (EU) No [.../...]', 30 May 2012
[2] Law Enforcement Working Party, 'Summary of discussions', 5 June 2012, p.2
[3] European Commission, 'Next steps in border management in the EU', 18 March 2008
[4] Ben Hayes & Mathias Vermeulen, 'Borderline: EU Border Surveillance Initiatives: An Assessment of the Costs and Its Impact on Fundamental Rights', May 2012, p.29
[5] European Commission, 'Smart borders - options and the way ahead', 25 October 2011, p.6
[6] 'Borderline: EU Border Surveillance Initiatives: An Assessment of the Costs and Its Impact on Fundamental Rights'
[7] General Secretariat of the Council, 'Provisional agendas for Council meetings, during the first semester of 2012 (Danish Presidency)', 19 December 2011, p.39
[8] General Secretariat of the Council, '3172nd meeting of the COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (Justice and Home Affairs)', 4 June 2012
[9] European Commission, 'Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management', 21 November 2011, p.6
[10] 'European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2012 on the European Union's Internal Security Strategy', para. 23

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