German government proposals

One of the most extraordinary responses in the aftermath of 11 September came from the German government which put forward a series of measures to be adopted at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 27-28 September. The document, a "Meetings document", was not formally adopted but in the "anti-terrorist roadmaps" produced for the General Affairs Council there is a note saying that it is still on the table.

The document calls on the Council of the European Union to adopt the following proposals:

i) the police to have access to the planned EU Eurodac database of the fingerprints of asylum-seekers and refugees and "suspected" illegal immigrants;

ii) use by "security authorities" of the information on visa consultation;

iii) establishment of common visa data records

iv) "introduction of new methods of proving identity and identification, eg the ultra-secure technique of image integration and inclusion of fingerprints in visa stickers and residence permits;

v) the immediate introduction giving Europol, national Public Prosecutor's Offices, immigration and asylum agencies access to the Schengen Information System (SIS);

vi) proposals to enable "Europe-wide computerised profile searches to be conducted".

It then proposes, in the context of the above and in reaction to 11 September that:

"each Member State should maintain centralised population registers and centralised registers sorting data on third country nationals present within the territory of the Union"

Five EU member states have computerised and centralised population registers:

Belgium
Denmark
Luxembourg
Finland
Sweden

Nine EU member states have "municipal register" (that is register compiled and held at the municipal level but not in a form which can be accessed for analysis at national level), these are: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria and Sweden.

Five EU member states do not have population registers:

France
Ireland
Portugal
UK
Greece (Greece does have municipal records but only of Greek nationals)

(Source: Demographic Statistics, Eurostat, 1960-99).

However, the data held on these national and/or municipal records is often out of date and/or incomplete.

As to the dangerous proposal to have targeted centralised and computerised registers of "third country nationals" in the EU only two EU state have registers of "foreigners":

Germany
Luxembourg

The idea that all EU member states should have to have "centralised population registers" implies that there would also be an obligation for all people (citizens and third country nationals) to register or face criminal penalties.