EU to share access to single ID database

POLICE and security services across the European Union will share access to a wide range of individuals’ personal data thanks to radical new measures.

It allows agencies in different countries to search one another’s databases for fingerprints, DNA records, vehicle details and other personal information. Even if someone has no criminal record and their DNA is not on a database, police or judges can ask their foreign colleagues to collect a sample.

The scheme was introduced between Germany and Austria in December and has netted almost 3,000 people fleeing the law, according to German Interior Minister Dr Wolfgang Schauble.

They included 30 people wanted in Germany for murder and nine suspected of sexual abuse of children.

“After just one month there were 1,500 hits by the German police with Austria and almost the same number of hits by Austria. This has been an extremely positive result,” said Mr Schauble.

However, Ireland is one of four EU countries with reservations about adopting the new system. Junior Minister Frank Fahey told the informal Justice meeting in Dresden that the Government is examining the proposals.

“It is very expensive. This is very complex. We will conclude our examination very soon,” he said.

The participating states give one another automated full and direct online read access to vehicle registration; access to their DNA analysis files and fingerprint files in a hit/no hit system.

Authorities can also exchange personal information about potential terrorists and on travelling violent offenders such as football hooligans or protestors at international events to prevent criminal acts.

Dr Schauble said that all 27 member states agreed to the treaty in principle at yesterday’s meeting and there were just one or two questions to be ironed out.

Ireland, Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic raised the question of cost and the inter-operability of their data systems with that of the other member states.

It will be the first time a treaty agreed between a few member states will be incorporated fully into EU law.

Normally cooperation agreements are made between member states at EU level and require unanimity or an opt-out for countries.

Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said: “This is new and presents us with the best model to improve our capacity in this area.”

Civil rights agencies such as Statewatch and others including the British House of Lords have expressed concern about the Treaty of Prum.

They both note the treaty was reached in private and that incorporating the measures in this way means that the European Parliament will not have a say while national parliaments will have oversight only at a later stage.

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