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Interoperability of EU databases - The Meijers Committee
- Unintended consequencies?
Targeting third country nationals
- Casting a very wide net?
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The Meijers committee have prepared: Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) 12 December 2017, COM (2017) 794 (pdf).

Their comments include:

Unintended consequences?

"According to the explanatory memorandum, access ‘to data is reserved exclusively for duly authorised staff of the Member State authorities or EU bodies that are competent for the specific purposes of each information system and limited to the extent that the data are required for the performance of tasks in accordance with these purposes.’ [emphasis added throughout]

The proposal as such does not alter the specific purposes of the EU databases involved. However, on the basis of the proposal, every designated authority of Member States will be able, via the European Search Portal, to learn about the fact that information on a third-country national is stored in one of the EU databases. In other words, the access of authorities to the European Search Portal is not restricted to their specific competence or task, whereas this specific competence or task currently limits their access to the specific EU databases. Therefore, information retrieved via the European Search Portal will establish that somebody is included in, for example, Eurodac or in SIS II. This implies a widening of the purpose of these databases: even if access to the personal file in this database is not allowed because lack of authorisation, the authority will have gained knowledge of the existence of the file.

Moreover, the mere knowledge that a person’s data are included in a particular database gives an authority a view of that person’s actions, which can in itself be an interference with the right to data protection laid down in Article 8 of the Charter (and with Article 7 of the Charter on the right to privacy). This requires that the proportionality of this access should be assessed."

Targeting third country nationals

"A specific issue in this context relates to the fact that the proposal concerns the interoperability of systems which do not only have different purposes, but also include different categories of data subjects. The systems include data of individuals because they are linked to criminal behaviour or illegal border crossing, as well as bona fide persons (included in Eurodac and VIS). It should be explained interoperability will not lead to the mixing up of these categories."

Casting a very wide net?

"Specifically, the explanatory memorandum emphasizes this differentiated treatment between EU citizens and third-country nationals in view of the goal of preserving security in the EU: ‘Whilst not directly affecting EU nationals (the proposed measures are primarily focused on third-country nationals whose data is recorded in an EU centralised information system), the proposals are expected to generate increased public trust by ensuring that their design and use increases the security of EU citizens. This justification basically means that third country nationals should be subject to additional security checks - even if there is no connection to any illegal behaviour - in order to make EU citizens feel more secure.

Furthermore, the explicit objective of the proposal of facilitating identity checks of third country nationals by police organisation within the EU territory, to see whether information on this person is stored in one or more of the EU databases, will enhance the possibility of third-country nationals (or those considered to be third-country nationals) being stopped for identity checks."

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