The European Union’s EU-wide biometric tool, acting on the Dublin system whereby only one member state can examine an asylum application, has processed 63,341 sets of fingerprints of people illegally staying in EU territory.
In 2006 the EU-wide biometric tool EURODAC processed 165,958 sets of fingerprints of asylum seekers, 41,312 sets of fingerprints of people crossing borders irregularly and 63,341 sets of fingerprints of people apprehended while illegally staying on the territory of a 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’,” Frattini said.
Figures show that in 2006 the number of registered asylum seekers decreased while the number of registered irregular entrants rose by 64pc.
In 17pc 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.
In some cases several applications have been made across several EU member states by the same person.
This percentage is only 1pc higher than in 2005, which could reflect the deterrent effect of the ‘Dublin System’ (which states that only one member state can examine an asylum application).
Since 2003, under the Dublin II regulation, the fingerprints of anyone over the age of 14 who applies for asylum in the EU, Norway or Iceland are stored on a database called EURODAC, the first common automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) within the UE.
EURODAC consists of a central unit within the commission equipped with a database for comparing fingerprints and a system for data transmission between each participating state and the central unit.
The total EU budget allocated for EURODAC is €16.6m followed by a budget of €7.8m to cover external activities like software maintenance, bug fixing, software licenses and networking. The maintenance expenditure on the biometric system in 2006 was €244,240.
By John Kennedy