FECL 54 (May 1998):

BILATERAL EXCHANGE OF FINGERPRINTS OF ASYLUM SEEKERS ALREADY TAKING PLACE

Although the Eurodac Convention has still not been signed, Danish police authorities have been exchanging fingerprints of asylum seekers with a number of other EU-countries, ever since the Dublin Convention (for the determination of the Member State responsible of examining an asylum application) entered into force on 1 September 1997.

According to the Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet) exchanges of fingerprints of asylum seekers are taking place "without problems" on a bilateral basis "with several countries, including among others Germany and the Nordic countries". This follows from a written answer by the Danish Government to the European Affairs Committee of the Parliament.

From 1 September 1997 to 31 January 1998, Rigspolitiet received replies from Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy relating to Danish requests concerning the fingerprints of 859 persons applying for asylum in Denmark. According to Rigspolitiet, fingerprint-matching resulted in 189 hits in Germany, 10 in the Netherlands and 1 in Italy.

While the note stresses that cooperation concerning requests for fingerprint-matching in the course of procedures under the Dublin Convention is "entirely satisfactory" with Germany and works well with the Nordic states too, no assessment is made of cooperation with Italy and the Netherlands...

In justifying the practice, the Danish Government refers to the 46 point Action Plan on the "influx of migrants from Iraq and the neighbouring region" (see FECL No.53: "Kurdish Exodus triggers EU-war on 'illegal immigrants'"), adopted by the EU General Affairs Council on 26 January. The Action Plan calls on the Member States to examine without delay the extent to which, on a bilateral basis and in compliance with their national law fingerprints of asylum seekers could be exchanged.

The Danish note now shows that Denmark and an unnamed number of other EU member States actually began exchanging fingerprints months before the adoption both of the Action Plan and a decision to the same effect of the Schengen Executive Committee (on 15 December 1997; see FECL No.53: "Kurdish Exodus triggers EU-war on 'illegal immigrants': Schengen Ministers in Vienna decide "immediate action""). Whether this was and is in compliance with the national law of the Member States involved, seems doubtful, at least as far as Denmark is concerned. The note is somewhat evasive on this point. After stressing that cooperation is working "without problems" with a number of countries, it says: "one will henceforth continuously assess whether there is a need for a formal agreement on cooperation with Germany or with other EU countries concerning bilateral exchange of fingerprints". To sum up the attitude of the Danish Government: "Cooperation works well, we’ll see later whether we really need to put it on a legal basis".

 

Source: Answer of the Danish Government (Foreign Ministry) to question No. 64, 4.2.98 from the European Affairs Committee of the Parliament (Folketingets Europaudvalg), 18.2.98.