IMPLEMENTING RULES FOR THE EURODAC REGULATION
Draft Council Regulation laying down certain rules to implement Council Regulation (EC) 2725/2000 concerning the establishment of "Eurodac" for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention.
||Article 22 of the Eurodac Regulation; ; unanimity (see below)
|Deposited in Parliament:
||16 October 2001|
||Home Office |
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 29 October 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||None; but see (21391) 8417/00: HC 23-xxvii (1999-2000), paragraph 14 (25 October 2000)
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
18.1 The Eurodac Regulation, which was adopted
in December 2000, establishes a computerised database to allow
comparison of the fingerprints of asylum seekers and of certain
categories of illegal immigrants across the EU, in order to determine
which Member State is responsible for examining asylum applications.
The Regulation is designed to assist in the application of the
Dublin Convention, which provides criteria and mechanisms for
ensuring that an asylum claim is heard only once within the EU.
18.2 When the previous Committee cleared the
(after a lengthy scrutiny process), it was pleased to note the
then Minister's assurance that any implementing rules adopted
under the Regulation would be submitted to parliamentary scrutiny.
The document and the Government's views
18.3 The deposited document was circulated to
the Asylum Working Party on 21 December 2000. In her Explanatory
Memorandum, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Angela Eagle) tells
us that proposed amendments have been made to the draft Regulation,
but that no official text has yet been received. She attaches
an unofficial text which reflects the proposed changes.
18.4 The Minister also explains the somewhat
complicated voting procedures. She says:
"Article 22 of the Eurodac
Regulation itself states that the Council shall adopt, acting
by the majority laid down in Article 205(2) of the Treaty the
implementing provisions necessary for laying down the procedures
referred to in Article 4(7) for the collection, transmission and
comparison of fingerprints, for the blocking of data referred
to in Article 12(1) concerning recognised refugees and for drawing
up the statistics referred to in Article 12(2) concerning applications
for asylum made by persons recognised and admitted as refugees
in another Member State. But, in cases where these implementing
provisions have implications for the operational expenditure borne
by Member States, the Council shall act unanimously.
"In these particular circumstances, given the
need to develop electronic data bases and communications networks
at national level, voting will be by unanimity as there will be
financial implications for some Member States."
18.5 In relation to the Implementing Rules themselves,
the Minister comments as follows:
"The Implementing Rules
provide the detailed technical and operational guidance to Member
States to establish viable communications with the Central Unit
[the unit responsible for operating the central database]. This
includes the means by which Member States will identify the categories
of data, as determined in the Eurodac Regulation itself, to be
transmitted to the Central Unit. The Implementing Rules mainly
concern the functions, requirements and obligations of the Central
Unit itself. This includes carrying out the fingerprint comparisons
themselves, the transmission of results back to Member States
and the setting of a 24 hour time limit for this to be done by
the Central Unit. Quality checks and the ability of the Central
Unit to seek re-transmission of data to an appropriate standard
are covered. The ability of the Central Unit to distinguish and
block data on persons recognised as refugees under the terms of
the 1951 Refugee Convention is also included. Reference is also
made to the need to produce statistics for the report on the incidence
of persons who have lodged an application for asylum in a Member
State after having been recognised and admitted as refugees in
another Member State, as required by the Eurodac Regulation."
18.6 The Minister tells us that the proposed
changes to the text clarify the role of the Central Unit in terms
of quality control, setting high levels of accuracy, and the development
of operational procedures, and put more emphasis on the need to
establish appropriate technical requirements for the transmission
of data between Member States and the Central Unit.
18.7 The Minister reports that, in March 2001,
the Commission announced that the contract to install the Eurodac
Central Unit had been awarded to Bull (Belgium) S.A. and Cogent
Systems. She also tells us:
"The Commission recommends
the secure communication link known as TESTA is used by Member
States to communicate with the Central Unit. TESTA provides an
electronic telecommunications infrastructure for European administrations.
TESTA is a project to provide 'Trans European Services for Telematics
between Administrations' with the core function of facilitating
secure communication between sites connected within the EuroDomain.
The EuroDomain is both separate and protected from the public
Internet. It is accessed through a number of specific, identified
EuroGates in national locations in Member States and candidate
"TESTA is part of the IDA (Interchange of Data
between Administrations) Community Programme to promote the application
of information technology and the exchange of information between
European Administrations. The Council of Ministers and European
Parliament adopted this programme on 12 July 1999 (Decision 1719/1999/EC).
The UK is already participating in the wider TESTA programme."
18.8 Finally, the Minister turns to the timetable
for the measure. She says:
"EURODAC can only become
operational from the date when all Member States have made
the necessary technical arrangements and can communicate effectively
with the Central Unit. The adoption of this Regulation laying
down Implementing Rules is key to the practical development of
the system and the ability of Member States to communicate with
the Central Unit. The Rules may now be placed before Council for
a rapid decision to enable Member States to continue their technical
developments. For this reason the Parliamentary Committees are
respectfully requested to consider the Implementing Rules as a
matter of priority."
18.9 The Minister's Explanatory Memorandum,
although helpful in several respects, does not make it clear why
there is now an urgency to agree the implementing rules when they
have apparently been under discussion for nearly a year.
18.10 Although we agree that the amendments
in the unofficial text are clearer and more specific than the
original text, we still think the wording could have been sharper.
As it stands, the document gives most of the responsibility for
determining quality standards as well as quality control in this
sensitive area to the central unit. We urge the Minister to ensure
that its work is closely monitored.
18.11 We clear the document.
51 (21391) 8417/00: see headnote to this paragraph. Back