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Italy: Interior Minister details reservations on the Prüm Convention (Schengen III)
01 January 2006
In response to questions put to him by the Senator and former Prime Minister (in 1992-1993 and 2000-2001) Giuliano Amato, Interior Minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, provided details of the reasons why Italy has not taken part in the Prüm Convention, signed on 27 May 2005 by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain, "on the stepping-up of cross-border cooperation", particularly to combat terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration
In the answer, dated 17 January 2006, Pisanu argues that although he believes in the usefulness of cooperation in this field, he has reservations about certain contents of the treaty, most notably the exchange of DNA data and the use of armed officers on commercial flights. In relation to DNA, he notes that Italy does not yet have a law to regulate the DNA database, and in the case of "air marshals", he argues that they are not suited to "our methodology in the field of security, which… mainly rest upon prevention". He also noted that exchanges of personal data should be carried out in accordance with two international agreements that Italy has not ratified yet. At the same time, he did not rule out the possibility of Italy joining the initiative, as the Convention is still awaiting ratification by "almost all" its signatories.
The Prüm Treaty (aka Schengen III) requires its contracting parties to establish DNA profile databases, which the other contracting parties will be able to check on request for the purpose of prosecuting criminal activity, and to be able to run automatic comparisons of fingerprints in partner countries' fingerprint databases, when an individual is identified and for both the prosecution and "prevention" of criminal activity. The treaty allows cooperation and the exchange of personal data in relation to political demonstrations and other mass events and to prevent terrorist attacks, regulates the deployment of air marshals on commercial flights and of immigration liaison officers (ILOs) in countries of origin or transit, establishing national contact points to coordinate the activity of ILOs, and authorises the carrying out of joint deportations (a practice which has already been carried out on a number of occasions outside of the Prüm framework). The Prüm Convention also widens the scope for cross-border policing giving officers from partner countries executive powers to carry out arrests or participate in public order duties in exceptional circumstances.
Source: Intervention by the minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, 17.1.2006, available on the interior ministry website:
Statewatch coverage: "Some remarks on Schengen III"
, July 2005:
The Prüm Convention, full-text
Available in French, Spanish and German at: