Migration and Home Affairs

Identification of applicants (EURODAC)

EURODAC makes it easier for EU States to determine responsibility for examining an asylum application by comparing fingerprint datasets.

What is EURODAC?

The EURODAC Regulation establishes an EU asylum fingerprint database. When someone applies for asylum, no matter where they are in the EU, their fingerprints are transmitted to the EURODAC central system.

Since it was established in 2003, EURODAC has proved to be a very important tool providing fingerprint comparison evidence to assist with determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application made in the EU. Its primary objective is to serve the implementation of Regulation (EU) No. 604/20133 ('the Dublin Regulation') and together these two instruments make up what is commonly referred to as the 'Dublin system'.

Key achievements

  • It sets time limits for fingerprint data to be transmitted, reducing the time which elapses between the taking and sending of fingerprints to the Central Unit of EURODAC.
  • It also ensures full compatibility with the asylum legislation and better addresses data protection requirements.
  • It allows Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol to compare fingerprints linked to criminal investigations with those contained in EURODAC, only for the purpose of the prevention, detection and investigation of serious crimes and terrorism and under strictly controlled circumstances and specific safeguards; in particular, by including a requirement to check all available criminal records databases first and limiting searches only to the most serious crimes, such as murder and terrorism.
  • In addition, prior to making a EURODAC check, law enforcement authorities must undertake a comparison of fingerprints against the Visa Information System (where permitted). Law enforcement checks may not be made in a systematic way, but only as a last resort when all the conditions for access are fulfilled.

Towards a reform of the CEAS: the 'EURODAC' proposal

Due to the large scale arrivals since the start of the migration and refugee crisis in 2015, some Member States became overwhelmed with fingerprinting all those arriving irregularly to the EU at the external borders, and who further transited through the EU en route to their preferred destination. As a consequence, thousands of migrants have remained invisible in Europe, including thousands of unaccompanied minors, a situation that facilitates unauthorised secondary and subsequent movements and irregular stay within the EU.

As part of the first reform package of May 2016, the Commission presented a proposal to reinforce EURODAC to reflect the changes in the Dublin Regulation proposal and to make sure that it continues to provide the fingerprint comparison evidence it needs to function. In addition, the Commission also considered in its proposal the use of other biometric identifiers to be used for EURODAC, such as facial recognition and the collection of digital photos to counter the challenges faced by some Member States to take fingerprints for the purposes of EURODAC.

The proposal also extends its scope for the purposes of identifying irregularly staying third-country nationals and those who have crossed the EU external borders irregularly and contribute in an effective manner to the return procedure. Furthermore, the proposal:

  • Introduces the obligation to take fingerprints and an additional biometric identifier – a facial image – and it lowers the age of taking fingerprints to 6 years old;
  • Allows to store and compare all three categories of data and to retain fingerprint data for illegally staying third-country nationals or third –country nationals who have crossed an external border irregularly and who do not claim asylum for 5 years.

Discussions on the individual proposals are currently ongoing and follow a comprehensive approach on both reform packages.