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The body of common rights and obligations that is binding on all EU States. It is constantly evolving and comprises:

  • the content, principles and political objectives of the Treaties,
  • legislation adopted pursuant to the Treaties and the case law of the Court of Justice
  • declarations and resolutions adopted by the Union,
  • instruments under the Common Foreign and Security Policy,
  • instruments under Justice and Home Affairs,
  • international agreements concluded by the EU and those entered into by EU States among themselves within the sphere of the Union's activities.

Source: DG Enlargement

Acquisition of citizenship

Any mode of becoming a national, i.e. by birth or at any time after birth, automatic or non-automatic, based on attribution, declaration, option or application.

Source: European Convention on Nationality

Active bribery

The deliberate action of whosoever promises or gives, directly or through an intermediary, an advantage of any kind whatsoever to an official for himself or for a third party for him to act or refrain from acting in accordance with his duty or in the exercise of his functions in breach of his official duties.

Source: Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 (2) (c) of the Treaty on European Union on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union

Active data

Data in active use. In a database, such data will be checked by search engines and will appear in search results if they meet the search criteria.

Source: Proposal COM(2007) 654 final

Active database

Contains data that is in active use.

Source: Communication COM(2010) 385 final

Acts of terrorism

Intentional acts that, given their nature or context, may seriously damage a country or an international organisation where committed with the aim of seriously intimidating a population, or unduly compelling a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act, or seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation:

  • attacks upon a person’s life which may cause death,
  • attacks upon the physical integrity of a person,
  • kidnapping or hostage taking,
  • causing extensive destruction to a Government or public facility, a transport system, an infrastructure facility, including an information system, a fixed platform located on the continental shelf, a public place or private property likely to endanger human life or result in major economic loss,
  • seizure of aircraft, ships or other means of public or goods transport,
  • manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport, supply or use of weapons, explosives or of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, as well as research into, and development of, biological and chemical weapons,
  • release of dangerous substances, or causing fires, floods or explosions the effect of which is to endanger human life,
  • interfering with or disrupting the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource the effect of which is to endanger human life,
  • threatening to commit any of the acts listed above.

Source: Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA

Adequacy decision

A decision adopted by the European Commission on the basis of Directive 95/46/EC, which establishes that a non-EU country ensures an adequate level of protection of personal data by reason of its domestic law or the international commitments it has entered into.

The effect of such a decision is that personal data can flow from all EU States and the European Economic Area member countries (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) to that non-EU country, without any further safeguards.

Source: European Data Protection Supervisor

Air carrier

In relation to conveyance, the owner or charterer of the conveyance. A carrier usually refers to an airline, bus or rail company, or cruise line. Under the laws of some States, the term includes any owner of a means of conveyance, which carries a person onto its territory.

Source: International Organization for Migration

According to Directive 2004/82/EC, "carrier" means any natural or legal person whose occupation it is to provide passenger transport by air.

Source: Council Directive 2004/82/EC

Alphanumeric data

Representation, e.g. in a computer, that employs not only numerals but also letters. In a wider sense, also employing punctuation marks and mathematical and other symbols.

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Approximation of laws

A unique obligation of membership in the EU, which means that countries aspiring to join the EU must align their national laws, rules and procedures in order to give effect to the entire body of EU law contained in the acquis. The obligation to approximate continues after accession.

There are three key elements:

  • to adopt or change national laws, rules and procedures so that the requirements of the relevant EU law are fully incorporated into the national legal order. This process is known as transposition. Although countries have considerable discretion in choosing the most appropriate national mechanism to reflect Union obligations, this discretion is limited in some respects by general principles of Union law. In most cases it will be necessary to adopt national legislation passed by Parliament or in some countries by Presidential or Governmental Decree,
  • to provide the institutions and budgets necessary to carry out the laws and regulations (known as the "implementation" or "practical application" of the directive),
  • to provide the necessary controls and penalties to ensure that the law is being complied with fully and properly (enforcement).

Source: DG Environment

Article 33

“Article 33 mechanism” or “a mechanism for early warning, preparedness and management of asylum crises” – a process set-up by the Dublin Regulation serving to prevent the deterioration in, or the collapse of, asylum systems, by alerting the Union as soon as possible when there is a concern that the smooth functioning of the Dublin system is being jeopardised as a result of particular pressure on, and/or deficiencies in the asylum system(s) of one or more EU State(s), providing remedial actions and steering measures of solidarity in order to assist the affected EU State(s) and the applicants.

Source: Regulation (EU) No 604/2013

Asset Recovery Office (ARO)

On the basis of Decision 2007/845/JHA, each EU State is to set up or designate a maximum of two Asset Recovery Offices to facilitate the tracing and identification of proceeds of crime and other crime-related property that may become the object of a freezing, seizure or confiscation order made by a competent judicial authority in the course of criminal or civil proceedings.

Source: Council Decision 2007/845/JHA


A form of protection given by a State, on its territory, based on the principle of non-refoulement and internationally or nationally recognised refugee rights (e.g. access to employment, social welfare and health care). It is granted to a person who is unable or unwilling to seek protection in his/her country of citizenship and/or residence, in particular, for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Source: European Migration Network

Asylum applicant

A non-EU national or a stateless person who has made an application for asylum in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken.

Source: Directive 2013/33/EU. The definition is the same in all EU asylum directives/regulations (APD, Dublin)

Asylum application

An application made by a non-EU national or a stateless person that can be understood as a request for international protection from an EU State, under the Geneva Convention. Any application for international protection is presumed to be an application for asylum unless a non-EU national or a stateless person explicitly requests another kind of protection that can be applied for separately.

Source: Directive 2013/33/EU. The definition is the same in all EU asylum directives/regulations (APD, Dublin)

Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund

A financial instrument for the period 2014 to 2020, which supports national and EU initiatives that promote the efficient management of migration flows and the implementation, strengthening and development of a common Union approach to asylum and immigration.

Source: DG Home Affairs

Asylum seeker

A non-EU national or a stateless person who has made an application for asylum in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken.

Source: Directive 2013/33/EU. The definition is the same in all EU asylum directives/regulations (APD, Dublin)

Asylum shopping

The phenomenon where an asylum seeker applies for asylum in more than one EU State or chooses one EU State in preference to others on the basis of a perceived higher standard of reception conditions or social security assistance.

Source: European Migration Network

Automated analysis file

Files containing specific data, which are designed to allow for automated searches and comparisons, e.g. DNA files.

Source: Council Decision 2008/615/JHA

Automated border control

The use of automatic or semi-automatic systems that can verify the identity of passengers crossing the borders at border crossing points, without the need for human intervention.

Source: Communication COM(2008) 69 final

Automated exchange of data

Exchange of data by means of specially designed IT systems and without requiring human intervention.

Source: Council Decision 2008/615/JHA

Automated identification system

An IT system that facilitates the identification of an individual or other (depending on the purpose and design of the system) by comparing provided elements of data with the data records available in the system's database.

Source: Council Decision 2008/615/JHA

Automated fingerprint identification system

An IT system that uses digital imaging technology to facilitate the identification of an individual by making a comparison of a provided fingerprint or latent with the fingerprint records available in the connected database.

Source: Council Decision 2008/615/JHA

Automated processing of data

Processing of data (which may include browsing, comparison, deletion, etc.) by means of specialised IT programmes and tools.

Source: Communication COM(2010) 492 final

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